NL East aces step up today on MLB.TV

Strasburg has tough act to follow; deGrom returns to Mets' rotation

April 24th, 2016

Today is a Sunday, which means it's a great time to get your fix of afternoon baseball.

The full 15-game slate includes 14 day games, beginning with the Rays and Yankees, whose first pitch from the Bronx is set for 1:05 p.m. ET. The schedule eventually will finish up under the lights in Houston, where the Astros host the Red Sox at 8:05.

In between, the Nationals' Stephen Strasburg, the Mets' Jacob deGrom and the Indians' Carlos Carrasco are among the pitchers who will take the mound for their clubs, live on MLB.TV.

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Here is a look at watch to watch for today in the Majors (all times ET):

Strasburg rolling: [email protected], 1:35 p.m.

After striking out 10 Marlins over eight scoreless innings on Tuesday, Strasburg owns a 1.25 ERA in three starts this season and a 1.74 mark in 13 outings since the beginning of last August. During that span, he has struck out 11.6 batters and walked 1.5 per nine innings. Strasburg will make his first career appearance against the Twins as the Nationals go for a home sweep.

"You can watch video all you want to. Until you see a guy in person, up close in person, it's to Stephen's advantage," Nats manager Dusty Baker said. "I would imagine if I was on the other side, you're going to see them doing a lot of first-ball hitting, because they don't want to get deep in the count, because this team here is a first-ball-hitting team anyway."

Strasburg's start comes on the heels of a career day by Tanner Roark. The right-hander struck out 15 in the Nationals' 2-0 victory over the Twins on Saturday.

Stat that matters: Righty Tyler Duffey, making his season debut for the Twins, allowed six runs in his first Major League start last year but posted a 2.25 ERA over his final nine outings.

Return of deGrom: [email protected], 1:35 p.m.

deGrom's lone start this season came on April 8, when he held the Phillies to one run over six innings. Since then, he has dealt with a strained right lat muscle, and much more importantly, his infant son's health complications. But with the father and the newborn both doing better, deGrom now returns to game action, having thrown a 71-pitch bullpen session at the Mets' St. Lucie, Fla., complex on Tuesday.

"I feel good," deGrom said after rejoining the Mets on Saturday. "The last few bullpen sessions have been good. I threw what, five innings down in St. Lucie, and I felt good there. We were working on some mechanical things, too, which I think kind of made the lat a little sore early on."

Stat that matters: Right-handed batters have managed only a .479 OPS against deGrom over the past two years, third-best among qualified pitchers.

Rare sweep on the line: [email protected], 1:10 p.m.

The last time the Indians swept the Tigers in Detroit was Aug. 25-27, 2008, with left-hander Cliff Lee winning one game in the series on his way to the American League Cy Young Award. From '09 through last year, Cleveland won only 19 of 63 road contests against its AL Central foe. However, on their first trip to Comerica Park this season, the Indians are in position to finish off a three-game sweep behind Carrasco. The right-hander has allowed only one run on four hits in consecutive starts, and opponents are batting .208 against him this season. The Tigers, who are countering with righty Shane Greene, have scored two runs on six hits in the series, with one walk and 19 strikeouts.

Stat that matters: In two games batting leadoff since being moved there for the series opener, Cleveland's Carlos Santana has gone 4-for-9 with two doubles and a home run. Santana had not previously hit leadoff in his career.

Magic Mat: [email protected], 2:10 p.m.

The White Sox have been getting their money's worth from right-hander Mat Latos, who signed a one-year, $3 million deal with the club this offseason, following a rough 2015. Latos has won each of his first three starts, allowing a total of one run on six hits, with opponents batting .097/.176/.145 against him. He will go up against lefty Derek Holland and the Rangers as the Sox look for a sweep, which would improve them to 13-6 this season.

"He's doing great," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said after Latos tossed six scoreless innings on Tuesday against the Angels. "He's just commanding the strike zone, up and down, in and out. He's able to spin one in there when he needs to. It would be one thing if it was four innings, but he's done it over a period of a few games here. It has been great."

Stat that matters: One issue for Latos is that his .118 batting average on balls in play (BABIP) is by far the lowest among qualified pitchers, and it is due to regress significantly at some point.

MLB.TV Premium subscribers get the Mosaic View -- split screen or quad, available on PC or Mac only. That always comes in handy, especially when scoreboard-watching looms. MLB.TV Premium and MLB.TV Single Team subscribers both enjoy HD and both will get real-time highlights and player stats automatically loaded moments after they occur (only for the game you are watching with MLB.TV Single Team, and for all games with MLB.TV Premium).