Spring Training is in full swing, with games underway in the Cactus and Grapefruit Leagues. Many star pitchers will be on the diamond for the first time in competitive play today, and fans can catch seven games on MLB.TV.A throng of former Cy Young Award winners will make their spring
Spring Training is in full swing, with games underway in the Cactus and Grapefruit Leagues. Many star pitchers will be on the diamond for the first time in competitive play today, and fans can catch seven games on MLB.TV.
A throng of former Cy Young Award winners will make their spring debuts today, including Clayton Kershaw, Max Scherzer and Zack Greinke, as well as four-time All-Star Madison Bumgarner. Here is what to watch for today (all times ET):
Bumgarner makes start in Scottsdale: CHC@SF, 3:05 p.m., MLB.TV
Fresh off being named the Giants' Opening Day starter for the fifth consecutive year -- one shy of Juan Marichal's San Francisco-era franchise record for consecutive season-opening outings (1964-69) -- Bumgarner will embark on his 10th big league Spring Training when he takes on the Cubs in Scottsdale, Ariz.
For aces of Bumgarner's caliber, this time of year is for fine-tuning and preparation for the six-month regular season (and potentially beyond, the Giants hope), though Bumgarner has established a formidable track record of production in Cactus League play. He's posted a career 3.87 ERA over 160 2/3 spring innings, including a 2.52 ERA in seven starts last year, finishing with nine strikeouts over seven innings against the Reds in his finale.
Bumgarner is coming off a 2017 regular season in which he was limited to just 17 starts after he separated his pitching shoulder in a dirt bike accident during an off-day in Colorado in April. His first career stint on the disabled list, which sidelined him three months, snapped a streak of six consecutive seasons in which the left-hander had eclipsed 200 innings.
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Business as usual: LAD@SEA, 3:10 p.m., MLB.TV
Bumgarner will be part of what will assuredly be one of the best pitching matchups of Opening Day, as he's slated to face Kershaw at Dodger Stadium on March 29. Kershaw was tabbed the Dodgers' Opening Day starter for a club-record eighth time nearly two weeks ago.
Kershaw and the Dodgers' pitching staff will likely be throwing on a more gentle spring schedule after the club's deep postseason run and the shorter offseason as part of the new regular-season schedule, which begins roughly a week earlier in 2018. Aligning with a five-day throwing schedule, Kershaw tossed a 22-pitch, one-inning batting practice session on Tuesday. The three-time National League Cy Young Award winner will likely throw just one inning today against the Mariners in Peoria, Ariz., in what will be his first live outing since Game 7 of last year's World Series.
"With position players you have a lot more leeway; they don't need six weeks of Spring Training. Relievers are the same way; they don't need six weeks to get ready," Kershaw said. "Really, everybody's here for us, honestly. The starting pitchers need to go an inning at a time for four or five times, and that takes three or four weeks. There's not much you can do."
Zack's back: MIL@ARI, 3:10 p.m., Gameday Audio
Following one of the most interesting offseasons of any club this winter, the 2018 Brewers, who finished just one game shy of the postseason, are likely hoping to become the '17 D-backs, who after multiple winters of roster bolstering made the playoffs for the first time since '11. These two will meet today in Scottsdale, Ariz., with Grienke facing off against an overhauled Milwaukee lineup and Jhoulys Chacin, whom the club acquired to help fortify its rotation.
Chacin had a quietly productive year for the Padres, compiling a 3.89 ERA in 32 starts. With No. 1 starter Jimmy Nelson expected to miss a sizable portion of the regular season early, Chacin is slated to be the club's No. 3 on Opening Day.
Greinke, who played for the Brewers from 2011-12, is in the midst of what he's described as a much more accelerated camp, having already thrown five bullpen sessions. He is likely to be Arizona's Opening Day starter, but manager Torey Lovullo has yet to make that official.
Daniel Kramer is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver. Follow him on Twitter at @DKramer_.