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Astros Vs. Braves: Atlanta Gets Two Sluggers Back In Lineup For Series Finale

The Braves and Astros wrap up the two-game set with a day game to get both teams on the road. Game time is 1:05 on SportSouth.

Astros Lineup:
1. Michael Bourn, CF
2. Angel Sanchez, 2B
3. Hunter Pence, RF
4. Carlos Lee, LF
5. Brett Wallace, 1B
6. Matt Downs, 3B
7. Clint Barmes, SS
8. J.R. Towles, C
9. Wandy Rodriguez, SP

Braves Lineup:
1. Martin Prado, LF
2. Jason Heyward, RF
3. Chipper Jones, 3B
4. Dan Uggla, 2B
5. Eric Hinske, 1B
6. David Ross, C
7. Alex Gonzalez, SS
8. Nate McLouth, CF
9. Derek Lowe, SP

Wandy Rodriguez (52 IP, 3.98 ERA, 3.86 FIP, 3.51 xFIP, 1.9 BB/9, 7.1 K/9, 42.5 GB%, 7.8 SwStr%)
(53.8 FB%, 33.6 CB%, 12.6 CH%; 45.1 Swing%, 82.5 Contact%)
vs.
Derek Lowe (50.2 IP, 3.73 ERA, 3.18 FIP, 3.07 xFIP, 3.02 BB/9, 8.35 K/9, 56.9 GB%, 9.9 SwStr%)
(46.7 FB%, 27.1 SL%, 16.2 CH%, 10 CT%; 39.7 Swing%, 74.6 Contact%)

Rodriguez is having a good season so far, though it's just slightly off from his usual numbers. He has posted a walk per nine much lower than his career average of 3.16, but that has also come with a big drop in strikeouts. His home runs are up and ground balls are down. Rodriguez always lives with a line drive rate over 20%, which is surprising considering the solid numbers he always posts. Perhaps concerning to the Astros is an outside contact rate that is increasing over the past four years, currently sitting at 71.7%. As a result, his K/9 has steadily dropped the last four years. He may be fine now, but it's a trend that could signal a steep drop off within a few years as he reaches the mid-30s.

At first glance, Lowe's last outing against the Nationals seems ugly due to five runs allowed and two home runs, but he gave up just five hits and struck out six over six innings while inducing 13 ground balls and just four fly balls. It's the most strikeouts for Lowe in his last three starts, and he returned to double digit ground ball numbers for just the second time in six starts.

Opposing Numbers:
Alex Gonzalez is 2-20 against Rodriguez, so it appears his struggles may continue. Nate McLouth is 6-20. Chipper Jones is 4-15 with two homers. Dan Uggla is 3-15 with two doubles. Martin Prado is 4-14 with a double. Brian McCann is 1-9 with a homer.

Carlos Lee and Michael Bourn have had Lowe's number; Lee is 16-38 with two homers, and Bourn is 6-13 with a double and triple. Clint Barmes is 4-18, Hunter Pence is 3-9 and Bill Hall is 0-9.

What to Look For:
Rodriguez is a tougher pitcher than people realize, and he's often underrated due to the team he plays for. The Braves could have their hands full with him.

Notes:
Chipper Jones was a game-time decision based on how his knee felt after batting practice. Things went well and he is back in the lineup.

Jason Heyward also returns to the lineup after missing several days with a sore shoulder.

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.