Mikolas to start Game 1 against Braves

October 3rd, 2019

ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals will kick off their postseason Thursday against the Braves with their Opening Day starter, , on the mound, the club announced Tuesday. The Braves announced that they will start left-hander .

Mikolas was the likely candidate to get the Game 1 start after the Cardinals had to use on Sunday to clinch the National League Central title. Flaherty will start Game 2 on Friday, and will start Game 3 on Sunday.

Mikolas had a breakout 2018 campaign that led him to 18 wins, a 2.83 ERA and a four-year extension with the Cardinals in the offseason. The 31-year-old struggled with inconsistency this year, but he showed flashes of his '18 dominance and will make his first postseason start after going 9-14 with a 4.16 ERA in the regular season.

Mikolas hasn’t pitched since Sept. 22, when he allowed one earned run in 7 2/3 innings to finish a four-game sweep of the Cubs at Wrigley Field that clinched a playoff spot for St. Louis.

The right-hander held the Braves to three runs in seven innings back in May, despite the Cardinals’ loss. Mikolas has a 2.61 ERA in four career appearances (three starts) against the Braves.

Braves left-handed slugger Freddie Freeman has hurt Mikolas the most, with a 1.264 OPS in 10 at-bats. Catcher Francisco Cervelli, who could come off the Braves’ bench, is hitting .313 against Mikolas in 16 at-bats. Left-handers are batting .284/.336/.448 against Mikolas, while right-handers have a .261/.288/.451 slash line against him.

The Cardinals haven’t faced Keuchel since 2016, but (3-for-18) has the most experience with the veteran left-hander. and are both hitting .400 (2-for-5) against Keuchel.

St. Louis has fared better recently against left-handers, with a .755 OPS this season and .803 OPS since Aug. 1. With a right-handed-heavy lineup, they face far more righties than lefties. Right-handers are hitting .281/.353/.442 against Keuchel this year, while left-handers have been limited to .189/.268/.351.