Major League Baseball will celebrate the Easter holiday with a jam-packed, 17-game Spring Training slate today.The final Sunday of Spring Training will also feature 12 games on MLB.TV, highlighted by Marlins ace Jose Fernandez taking the hill against the Cardinals. It will likely be the penultimate spring tune-up for Fernandez,
Major League Baseball will celebrate the Easter holiday with a jam-packed, 17-game Spring Training slate today.
The final Sunday of Spring Training will also feature 12 games on MLB.TV, highlighted by Marlins ace Jose Fernandez taking the hill against the Cardinals. It will likely be the penultimate spring tune-up for Fernandez, who already appeared to be in midseason form during his last outing against the Red Sox.
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Another game to watch today is the finale of the two-game Mexico City Series between the Astros and Padres. MLB.com will stream that contest live starting at 3 p.m. ET. Leading with Fernandez, here are some key things to watch for throughout the day (all times ET):
Fernandez aims to resume dominance: STL@MIA, 1:05 p.m., MLB.TV
Fernandez will take the hill today for the first time since holding the Red Sox hitless over five shutout innings on Tuesday. It was a sterling bounceback performance for the Marlins ace, who had been tagged for six runs over 3 2/3 innings against the Mets in his previous outing. Aside from that rocky March 17 performance, Fernandez has held his opponents hitless over his other seven Grapefruit League innings.
The Cardinals will counter with lefty Jaime Garcia, who will be making his first Grapefruit League start since March 16. Garcia, who was tagged for four runs over four innings in that outing against the Braves, made his last appearance in a Minor League game in an attempt to work on pitching out of the stretch.
Maeda on the mound: CIN@LAD, 4:05 p.m., MLB.TV
Dodgers newcomer Kenta Maeda will look to continue living up to, if not exceeding, the hype today when Los Angeles welcomes the Reds to Camelback Ranch. The Japanese right-hander has a 1.32 ERA through his first four Cactus League outings, all while racking up 13 strikeouts over 13 2/3 innings.
On the other side, Alfredo Simon will make his second start after returning to the Reds on a one-year, $2 million contract on March 17. The 34-year-old righty tossed three perfect innings on Tuesday in his debut against the Cubs.
Matz takes on rival Nats: WAS(ss)@NYM, 1:10 p.m., MLB.TV
Mets right-hander Steven Matz will try to get on track when he takes the mound against a Nationals split squad this afternoon at Tradition Field. Matz, the club's top overall prospect, allowed five runs over four innings his last time out, bringing his spring ERA to 8.31 over 13 innings.
The Nationals, meanwhile, will turn to Yusmeiro Petit, who is expected to begin the season as the club's long man out of the bullpen. This will be Petit's first start of the spring after allowing three runs over 8 1/3 innings in five relief appearances.
Jimenez strives for consistency: BAL@PIT, 6:05 p.m., MLB.TV
In the final game of the day, veteran right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez will toe the rubber when the Orioles travel to McKechnie Field to take on the Pirates in primetime. After making a pair of starts on the Minor League side of camp, Jimenez will make his first Grapefruit League start since March 12. He conceded six runs in just 1/3 of an inning in his first start this spring, but has allowed only two earned runs over 17 innings in his four starts since, including the two Minor League appearances.
Paul Casella is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @paul_casella.