NL's best rotation takes the hill in Philly


The following is a preview of the Sunday Night Baseball (ESPN, 8 ET) meeting between the Atlanta Braves and Philadelphia Phillies, with Jair Jurrjens scheduled to start against Cole Hamels.

The Phillies' rotation gets all the attention, but the Braves have a claim to the title of National League's best. Atlanta's rotation has the best ERA, the most innings pitched and the lowest opponents' batting average in the National League.

The Phillies' starters lead the NL in complete games and strikeouts, have the fewest walks and rank second to the Braves in ERA and innings pitched, and the Philadelphia pitching staff has a league-leading six shutouts.

Phillies Starting Pitchers This Season

And they've pitched better as this young season has progressed, cutting their ERA nearly in half and bumping their strikeouts per nine innings pitched up over nine in the past 16 games.

The reason the Braves sit in third place in the division, four-and-a-half games behind the first-place Phillies, is that they rank near the bottom of the league in hitting.

They've been timely when they do hit, however, ranking first in the league in batting average with runners in scoring position.

Hamels Matchups to Watch

Dan Uggla was 3-for-his-first-11 versus Hamels. He has since gone 3-for-his-last-29, including 1-for-his-last 9 against him. Uggla does not have a hit this season on an outside pitch by a left-handed pitcher and only one hit off a lefty's fastball.

Jurrjens Matchups to Watch

Jimmy Rollins is 1-for-his-last-16 against Jurrjens. Amazingly, he’s hitting just .154 against Jurrjens (4-for-26), but has never struck out against him.

Lowest Opp BA vs. Phillies
Active Pitchers, Min. 100 Batters Faced

Shane Victorino is 1-for-his-last 15 against Jurrjens.

The Phillies have won eight of their past 11 meetings with the Braves, and have won seven of their past nine games overall. The Braves, on the other hand, have won six of seven, the only loss coming Saturday night to the Phillies.

As far as statistical oddities go, these are two that are tough to explain; one is good news for the Braves, the other is not. The Phillies are 10-0 in day games this season, making them 12-10 at night. But they are 4-7 in series openers, meaning they are 18-3 in all other games.

The latter has held true against the Braves; the Phillies have dropped both series openers and have won the other three games.

-- Mark Simon and David Bearman contributed to this report