After a tough stretch of starts, Cliff Lee looks to turn things around against the Braves on Sunday.
Here are five stats to know going into Sunday Night Baseball action.
1. The Braves are riding the league’s best active win streak right now at nine games. Saturday night’s comeback win against the Phillies was their league-leading 35th of the year. Atlanta has won 16 of the past 23 meetings with the Phillies and 10 of the past 14 at Citizens Bank Park.
The Braves enter Sunday’s action with a season-high 11.5-game lead in the NL East. It marks the first time since Sept. 21, 2003, that the Braves have had a lead of 11.5 games in their division. The 2003 Braves finished the year with a 10.0-game lead in the NL East.
2. At 10 games under .500, the Phillies are trying to avoid their first losing season since 2002. Philadelphia is averaging 3.8 runs per game this season. This season could be the first since 1991 that the Phillies fail to score at least four runs per game.
Fastest Average Fastball
NL Lefties This Season
3. Rookie lefty Alex Wood makes his fourth career start for the Braves on Sunday, and for the second time in his career, it will be on regular rest. The hard-thrower has posted a well-above-average strikeout rate of 10.3 strikeouts per nine innings (average: 7.5) and walked 3.0 batters per nine innings (avg. 3.0). Wood has allowed one home run in 33 1/3 IP, due in part to a very good ground ball rate (55 percent).
Although Wood’s average fastball of 92.3 mph isn’t incredible, it ranks fourth among NL lefties with at least three starts this season, behind some pretty significant names.
4. Cliff Lee returns to the mound after missing a start with neck stiffness. He’ll look to shake off a tough stretch in his past four starts when he went 1-2 with a 5.47 ERA.
Lee has shown amazing command throughout his career, and this year has been no different. He leads the NL in strike rate (71 percent), percent of pitches in the zone (60 percent) and strikeouts looking this season (54 percent). Lee is 5-1 with a 1.38 ERA, 0.76 WHIP and 0.5 BB/9 in his past seven starts against the Braves.
Jason Heyward This Season
5. Jason Heyward moved into the leadoff spot for the Braves on July 27. Prior to that, he saw 57 percent fastballs. Since then, he’s seen 65 percent fastballs.
Through July 26, Atlanta’s leadoff hitters had an OBP of .296 and were scoring an average of 0.6 runs per game. Since Heyward took over at the top of the order, the Braves’ leadoff spot has a .425 OBP and is contributing 1.5 runs per game.