Braves Weekly Watch: Tough test awaits with Cardinals, Padres up next

The Atlanta Braves emerged from Opening Weekend with a winning record, but things won’t get easier with the St. Louis Cardinals and San Diego Padres up next.

The Atlanta Braves took the opening series of the season by dispatching the Washington Nationals in two out of three games. However, the first full week of action will not be such a cakewalk.

Let’s be honest, the Nats are rebuilding and will be lucky to win 60-plus games in 2023. But the St. Louis Cardinals are a force to be reckoned with and the San Diego Padres have an All-Star at almost every position.

That’s who Brian Snitker and the Atlanta Braves get to face this week. Matt Olson, who hit two home runs during the series against the Nationals, will need to bring his hot bat to the Gateway City, as the Braves have a three-day layover in St. Louis before heading back to the ATL for their home opener against the Friars.

DIRECTV carries the most local MLB games, so die-hard baseball fans with the CHOICE package or higher can stay connected to their teams all season long with their regional sports networks, where available (Blackouts and additional fees may apply).

Here’s what Atlanta Braves fans should be watching for this week:

April 3 vs. St. Louis Cardinals

Projected Pitching Matchup: Charlie Morton vs. Jake Woodford

At nearly 40 years of age, Charlie Morton might not bring the same velocity that he did earlier in his career, but he’s still an effective starting pitcher. The right-hander will toe the rubber for the Braves on Monday and will be opposed by Jake Woodford. The 26-year-old fared well in a split role throughout his Cardinals career. Woodford made just one start in 2022, but posted a fine 172 ERA+, primarily as a reliever.

April 4 vs. St. Louis Cardinals

Projected Pitching Matchup: Dylan Dodd vs. Steven Matz

It’ll be strictly southpaws on Tuesday night in St. Louis. Atlanta Braves lefty Dylan Dodd will go to the mound and opposing him will be fellow left-hander Steven Matz. This will be Dodd’s major league debut, and be facing a tough lineup with the likes of 2022 NL MVP Paul Goldschmidt, seven-time All-Star Nolan Arenado, and rookie sensation Jordan Walker.

April 5 vs. St. Louis Cardinals

Projected Pitching Matchup: TBD vs. Miles Mikolas

The Atlanta Braves have yet to name their starter for Wednesday afternoon’s affair with the St. Louis Cardinals, but Oliver Marmol will be sending Miles Mikolas to the hill. Fresh off a new contract, Mikolas lasted just 3.1 innings in his first game of the year while allowing five runs on 10 hits. The Braves will be hoping that the right-hander hasn’t fixed what was ailing him on Opening Day.

April 6 vs. San Diego Padres

Projected Pitching Matchup: Spencer Strider vs. TBD

Spencer Strider will head to the bump for his second game of the season on Thursday when the Atlanta Braves return to Truist Park. The ballpark will be rocking for the first home game of the season and will be looking for Strider to extend the dominance he portrayed in his first start of 2023. Strider went six innings and allowed just three hits while punching out nine Nats batters. Strider did not allow a run to cross the plate but will need to keep the base paths clear after allowing three walks in his previous start.

April 7 vs. San Diego Padres

Projected Pitching Matchup: TBD vs. TBD

While Brian Snitker has yet to name his starting rotation for the remainder of the Braves series against the Padres, it’s a good bet that Jared Shuster will get the ball for Game 2 of the series against San Diego. Shuster was roughed up in his big league debut against the Washington Nationals on Sunday afternoon after allowing four runs on six hits and walking five batters. Shuster had just one strikeout in that game.

April 8 vs. San Diego Padres

Projected Pitching Matchup: TBD vs. TBD

With neither Brian Snitker nor Bob Melvin named a starting pitcher beyond Thursday’s opener, it’s difficult to pinpoint who the Atlanta Braves might face for the remainder of the series. But whoever is on the mound for Atlanta will have to contend with Xander Bogaerts. The Padres’ biggest offseason signing is paying huge dividends already with two home runs in the first four games of the season.

April 9 vs. San Diego Padres

Projected Pitching Matchup: TBD vs. TBD

The Braves series with the Padres will wrap up on Sunday night from Atlanta. Travis d’Arnaud has come out swinging this season, and the Braves will be hoping for more contributions from their backstop. While Sean Murphy is the team’s primary catcher, d’Arnaud has seen plenty of at-bats to begin the year. d’Arnaud is 6-for-13 with three RBIs and a double.