Nationals ace Max Scherzer returns to the mound tonight to face red-hot slugger Giancarlo Stanton and the Marlins as Washington and Miami open up a three-game series as part of a 10-game slate streaming live on MLB.TV.Scherzer, who missed two weeks with inflammation in his neck, was cruising before landing
Nationals ace Max Scherzer returns to the mound tonight to face red-hot slugger Giancarlo Stanton and the Marlins as Washington and Miami open up a three-game series as part of a 10-game slate streaming live on MLB.TV.
Scherzer, who missed two weeks with inflammation in his neck, was cruising before landing on the 10-day disabled list. In three starts this month, he's allowed four earned runs across 15 innings (2.40 ERA) while striking out 19 batters.
Despite the missed time, the reigning National League Cy Young Award winner is arguably the favorite for the honor again in 2017 if he is able to finish out the year strong. The five-time All-Star's 2.25 ERA, 0.85 WHIP, 12.4 strikeouts per nine innings would all stand as career bests if the season ended today.
Meanwhile, Stanton is clubbing homers in Miami at a torrid rate. A legitimate candidate for NL Most Valuable Player, Stanton on Sunday became just the sixth player in history to reach 50 home runs before the end of August. The chase for 60 is on.
The Majors' home run leader is 4-for-15 with two homers and five RBIs when facing Scherzer. Tonight's matchup makes for appointment viewing.
Jose Urena (12-5, 3.68 ERA) gets the ball for the Marlins. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. ET at Nationals Park.
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Here's what to watch for throughout the day (all times ET):
Historically hot: ATL@PHI, 7:05 p.m.
Stanton is pulverizing baseballs at a better rate than perhaps everyone in baseball not named Rhys Hoskins. The Phillies phenom went deep on Sunday for the 11th time in his first 18 games, becoming the first to accomplish the feat.
Every Hoskins at-bat is must-see TV at this point. It feels like he might homer each time he steps in the box.
The 6-foot-4, 225-pound Hoskins was a serious power threat in the Minors, crushing 38 homers with Double-A Reading in 2016 before bashing 29 this year for Triple-A Lehigh Valley. But very few could have predicted this type of barrage in the Majors right away.
NL Central clash: PIT@CHC, 8:05 p.m.
The first-place Cubs take on the fourth-place Pirates as a pair of NL Central clubs meet in Chicago for the opener of a three-game series.
The Pirates send right-handed rookie Trevor Williams to the hill as he looks to build on his stellar outing versus the Dodgers in which he held them scoreless over eight innings.
The Cubs counter with left-hander Mike Montgomery, who is coming off one of his better starts of the season. Montgomery twirled six shutout frames against the Reds to pick up his fourth win.
Postseason push: SEA@BAL, 7:05 p.m.
The American League Wild Card race is incredibly tight, with more than half of the AL's teams in the running for a postseason spot. Among those clubs are Seattle and Baltimore, separated by just a half-game entering Monday.
The Mariners and Orioles open up a potentially pivotal three-game series at Camden Yards as left-hander Marco Gonzales and righty Chris Tillman toe the rubber.
Expect the ball to fly throughout the evening, as both Gonzales (0-1, 7.40) and Tillman (1-7, 7.75) have had their fair share of struggles on the bump.
Bronx battle: CLE@NYY, 7:05 p.m., ESPN
In one of the most highly anticipated matchups of the evening, the Indians' Corey Kluber goes head-to-head with the Yankees' Luis Severino at Yankee Stadium.
Kleber is coming off a tough-luck loss to the Red Sox in which he struck out 12 over 7 2/3 innings of two-run ball. Severino takes the hill on the heels of consecutive victories over the Mets and Tigers.
Oliver Macklin is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @OMacklinMLB.