With a doubleheader in Washington and every team in action on this getaway day, there are a whopping 16 games on the MLB.TV slate.In Milwaukee, the Cubs and Brewers close a critical, late-July series in their race against each other for the perch in the National League Central. In Los
With a doubleheader in Washington and every team in action on this getaway day, there are a whopping 16 games on the MLB.TV slate.
In Milwaukee, the Cubs and Brewers close a critical, late-July series in their race against each other for the perch in the National League Central. In Los Angeles, the Giants and the Dodgers continue one of the game's best rivalries, albeit with each in completely contrasting ends of the standings. And in Boston, the red-hot Royals look to continue their postseason push against a Red Sox club that has lost its grasp on first place.
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Here's what to watch for today (all times ET):
Doubleheader in D.C.: COL@WSH, 1:35 p.m., 7:05 p.m.
One interesting factor that could be at play for Rockies left-hander Kyle Freeland is his 8-2 record in day games. In 68 1/3 afternoon innings, the rookie has compiled an impressive 2.90 ERA, including a near no-hitter on July 9 against the White Sox. Freeland will combat a potent Nationals lineup with one of the game's highest ground-ball rates -- 59.3 percent, third-highest in MLB (min. 300 batted ball events), per Statcast™.
He'll square off against another rookie in right-hander Erick Fedde, the Nats' No. 3 prospect, per MLBPipeline.com, who will make his MLB debut and start in place of Stephen Strasburg, who is on the 10-day disabled list with a right elbow nerve impingement. Scouts like Fedde's slider, which he complements with a low-to-mid 90s heater.
The Rockies moved up Jon Gray (2-1, 7.71 ERA) to start the nightcap against Edwin Jackson, who was rattled for seven runs in his last outing against Milwaukee. Jackson had been a logical replacement for Joe Ross, lost for the year to Tommy John surgery, but his leash could be limited if he continues to struggle.
Race for the Central continues: CHC@MIL, 2:10 p.m.
The fate of the NL Central will run through the Cubs and Brewers, who wrap a significant series at Miller Park that could determine who leaves the weekend in first place.
The Cubs have been resurgent since the All-Star break, in large part due to the rotation showing signs of returning to its championship form from 2016. Right-hander John Lackey has been a key part of that in the two-plus weeks since the break, going 2-0 with a 2.70 ERA in two starts. Lackey struggled with command his last time out, hitting four batters, but he didn't allow a homer, which was a promising sign. He's given up 25 this year, six shy from tying a career high.
For the Brewers, Zach Davies had one of his best starts this year against the Cubs on July 6 at Wrigley Field, but his home showing in '17 has been alarming. In 10 starts at Miller Park, the righty is 6-4 with a 6.45 ERA, opposed to a 6-0 mark with a 2.80 ERA on the road.
AL Wild Card preview?: KC@BOS, 1:35 p.m.
Should the season end today, this matchup would be the American League Wild Card Game. The red-hot Royals wrap their weekend series at Fenway Park against the stumbling Red Sox, who have lost their grip on first place in the AL East.
Royals righty Jason Hammel tossed seven strong innings and gave up just two runs in his lone outing against the Red Sox on June 19, though he hasn't won since. Red Sox lefty Thomas Pomeranz has been trending up the last month and a half, having given up just three runs or fewer in seven of his last eight starts, including a strong outing in Kansas City on June 21, when he gave up just two earned runs in 6 1/3 innings.
West coast rivalry: SF@LAD, 8:05 p.m.
The Giants shuffled their rotation slightly for the ESPN "Sunday Night Baseball" contest at Chavez Ravine, as Player Page for Matt Cain was initially slated to start before switching with Madison Bumgarner.
Could the swap be of significance? If so, the Giants aren't alluding, at least not publicly. The Giants are on pace for just their second 100-loss season ever, but starting Bumgarner in L.A. rather than in the Bay Bridge series opener Monday could be a sign of a team seeking a spark, even in a season that is all but lost. The veteran is a career 8-6 with a 2.56 ERA at Dodger Stadium, and this will be his first start there since last Sept. 19, when he and Yasiel Puig jawed and induced benches-clearing hostility.
For the Dodgers, left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu will make his second start since returning from the DL with a foot contusion. In his last outing against the Twins, he allowed two runs in five innings, and in his only start against the Giants this year, he allowed one run over six innings in a 2-1 loss.
Daniel Kramer is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver. Follow him on Twitter at @DKramer_.