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What you should know about the Braves as the Cardinals head to the NLDS

The Cardinals have captured the division crown. Now the focus turns to Atlanta. So how do the Cardinals stack up to the Braves?

It was a long, dramatic road, but the Cardinals finally did it. They won the NL Central and avoided the dreaded Wild Card Game against Max Scherzer and the Nationals.

Now, they can focus their attention on the NL East champion Braves in the NLDS.

Game 1 is Thursday, Oct. 3 at either 4:02 if Washington wins the NL Wild Card or 5:02 if Milwaukee wins. Game 2 is at 3:37 Friday.

So, what do you need to know about the Braves?

They have a ton of exciting young talent

The Braves are fun, plain and simple.

They're young, and play with flair and enthusiasm. The average age of their eight starting position players is just 27.5.

The two most exciting young stars for the Braves are second baseman Ozzie Albies (22), and left fielder Ronald Acuna Jr. (21).

Albies is finishing up a year where he slashed .295/.352/.500, belted 24 home runs and drove in 86 runs. Those are good numbers for any other position on the diamond, but for a second baseman those kind of stats are rarely ever seen.

Watch: Adam Wainwright talks after winning the Central

Acuna Jr. is one of the most exciting players in baseball. A 20-year old sensation last year as the Rookie of the Year, Acuna has taken his game to another level this season.

The Braves elected to sit him out near the end of the season for rest, but he came very close to joining the exclusive 40 home run, 40 stolen base club. He'll end the season with 41 homers and 37 stolen bases. Only Alfonso Soriano, Alex Rodriguez, Jose Canseco and Barry Bonds.

That's just the two major stars.

Third baseman Austin Riley, shortstop Dansby Swanson and perennial MVP candidate Freddie Freeman are also all under 30 years old.

Watch: Jack Flaherty talks after leading Cardinals to Central crown

The starting rotation could be vulnerable

The Braves have a lot of interesting names in their starting rotation. Some are more reliable than others.

2019 break out star Mike Soroka is expected to be their answer to a "Jack Flaherty" in the playoffs. The 21-year-old Soroka is 13-4 this season with a 2.60 ERA.

After that, it might not be as quite cut and dry.

Watch: Mike Shildt talks after winning NL Central

Dallas Keuchel, whom many Cardinals fans were clamoring for at the start of the season, has been pretty good. And we've seen Cardinals have trouble against crafty lefties in the past.

Lefty Max Fried was fantastic to start the season for the Braves, but hasn't been quite the same guy he was during this back half of the year.

Mike Foltynewicz hasn't been the all-star he was last year, with an ERA sitting at 4.54, but has been effective in the last month or so for Atlanta.

Julio Teheran has been a work horse for the team and has an ERA at 3.81, but he doesn't seem like a guy the Braves would love to lean on in a big game.

So if this Cardinals offense can wake up and get some contributions from guys other than Tommy Edman, the Braves rotation could be exploitable.

How did they match up during the season series?

The Braves got the better of the Cardinals in the regular season, winning four of the six match-ups between the clubs.

Most of the Cardinals struggled at the plate against Atlanta this season, except for Matt Carpenter. Carpenter hit .348 in six games against the Braves, launching two home runs and driving in five runs.

Watch: Kolten Wong talks after Cardinals win the NL Central

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