When the results of the Baseball Writers' Association of America vote for the National League Cy Young Award were released in November 2013, the final list of names signaled as much a celebration of the future as it did a coronation of another dominant season by Clayton Kershaw.Just below the
When the results of the Baseball Writers' Association of America vote for the National League Cy Young Award were released in November 2013, the final list of names signaled as much a celebration of the future as it did a coronation of another dominant season by Clayton Kershaw.
Just below the names of Kershaw and Adam Wainwright were 21-year-old Jose Fernandez and 24-year-old Matt Harvey. Each of the young pitchers possessed filthy stuff. Each of them boasted high strikeout totals. And each of them look poised to rule the National League East for years to come.
Three years later, and it's been a series of peaks and valleys for the pair of hyped pitchers. Both Harvey and Fernandez had Tommy John surgery within months of each other after that 2013 campaign and missed significant time. Harvey climbed back to help lead the Mets to the World Series last fall, while Fernandez toiled through another injury-shortened 2015 season. Now, the fortunes are flipped as Miami's ace is rolling and The Dark Knight struggles to find his way.
Their scheduled bout is just one of several scintillating matchups to keep an eye on today. Important finales between division contenders loom across the American League, and Jake Arrieta hopes to stay perfect as all 30 Major League teams will be in action on MLB.TV.
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Here is a look at what to watch for today in the Majors (all times ET):
Arms race in Miami: NYM@MIA, 1:10 p.m.
Today's rumble in Miami marks just the third meeting all-time between Harvey and Fernandez, making this an extra-special treat for baseball fans. Each of the first two featured no-decisions for both men, and both tilts occurred back in 2013.
Harvey gave Mets fans a sigh of relief in his last start on Memorial Day after tossing seven shutout innings of two-hit ball against the White Sox. As exciting as his bounce-back performance was, Harvey also observed that it wouldn't mean anything unless he could repeat it consistently.
"He feels good about the way he threw the ball," Mets manager Terry Collins said after Harvey's last start. "Now we've just got to build on it, and stay as positive as we can and have him repeat it. "No matter what the results are, if he repeats this kind of performance with stuff, I think we're on the right track."
The Dark Knight's quest for a second straight win will face a tall order in his opponent on the mound. Besides the well-known fact that Fernandez has been nearly unbeatable in his career at home -- a 22-1 record to be exact -- the Cuban native is also enjoying one of the best stretches of his career. Fernandez already claimed a share of one franchise record by capturing six wins in the month of May, and is one win shy of tying Chris Hammond's 1993 Marlins record of earning a victory in eight consecutive starts.
Stat that matters: Marlins outfielder Marcell Ozuna is making a strong case for a spot on the NL All-Star team. In the last five weeks, Ozuna has posted two separate double-digit game hit streaks, led the NL in May with a .705 slugging percentage, and reached base in an MLB-best 36-game streak. Against the Mets, Ozuna has been just as dangerous, hitting .306 in his last 11 games against New York -- including a home run off Noah Syndergaard in the series opener Friday night. Ozuna is 4-for-12 (.333) in his career against Harvey while clubbing one of the 11 career triples given up by the Mets' right-hander.
Finale is 'Central' focus for Royals, Tribe: KC@CLE, 1:10 p.m.
The Indians entered this four-game set 2 1/2 games back of Kansas City in the AL Central standings, but now enjoy a half-game lead after taking the first three in Cleveland. The Tribe has won six straight against AL Central opponents -- its second such streak of five or more wins against division rivals this season. Eric Hosmer, meanwhile, has slugged three home runs and five doubles in his career against Indians ace Corey Kluber, who gets the ball today -- though he is hitless in his last 10 at-bats against the 2014 AL Cy Young Award winner.
Stat that matters: Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor has struck out only four times in his last 78 plate appearances at home. Lindor recorded a .761 OPS with two strikes in the 28 games between May 5 and Saturday night -- a full 227 points higher than the league average in that span.
Where the West lead goes: SEA@TEX, 3:05 p.m.
Similar to the aforementioned AL Central teams, these two clubs entered this series knowing one of them would hold a slight edge in the division when the weekend was over. The Rangers have been a case of the rich getting richer in the eyes of their opponents, as Texas already boasted the AL's best starting rotation by ERA before Yu Darvish's recent return. The Rangers are also an AL-best 17-0 when they score at least seven runs, as they did in the series opener while Darvish shut down Seattle on the mound.
Stat that matters: Prior to Saturday, the Rangers had shuffled five different players in and out of the No. 2 spot in their lineup this year, yet still enjoyed a .324 average out of that spot -- second only to Boston (.328) among Major League clubs.
Arrieta still working on personal streak: ARI@CHC, 2:20 p.m.
The run support ran out for Arrieta (9-0, 1.56 ERA) in his last start Tuesday against the Dodgers, when his scoreless seven-inning performance was wasted by the Cubs in an eventual 5-0 loss.
"You play this game long enough, you're going to lose a game here and there," Arrieta conceded.
But while the team's loss snapped Arrieta's streak of 23 consecutive Cubs victories in his starts, tied with Kris Medlen for the most in baseball history, the right-hander himself has still not suffered a regular-season loss since July 25, 2015. Arrieta has picked up two victories against the D-backs in his current streak, allowing only three Arizona runs over 15 innings. The D-backs, who spent a fortune this past offseason, are in danger of falling further in the NL West race after losing seven of their last 10.
Stat that matters: Cubs closer Hector Rondon has converted his last 21 consecutive save opportunities dating back to Aug. 14, 2015. However, while the Cubs are a perfect 37-0 this season when holding a lead entering the ninth inning, Rondon has been called upon to save just 10 of Chicago's MLB-most 39 victories.
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Matt Kelly is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @mattkellyMLB.