Key things to watch for in today's games
Here comes Max Scherzer again. Washington's ace threw a no-hitter in his last start and a one-hit shutout in the outing before that. So what can the Nationals expect on Friday against Philadelphia? Scherzer has delivered a 1.76 ERA this season and a 2.25 mark in five career starts against the Phillies.
Dominance, clearly, is nothing new for Scherzer, who won the American League's Cy Young Award in 2013. But his last two starts are something else entirely. Scherzer took a perfect game into the seventh inning of both starts, and he has 26 strikeouts against just two baserunners over his last two outings.
The Phillies will have the homefield advantage against Scherzer, and they'll send veteran Aaron Harang to the mound. Harang has a 3.41 ERA this season, but he's also lost a league-high nine games. The right-hander was stellar in April and May, but he's gone 0-4 with a 7.61 ERA in his last four outings.
Here are a few other matchups and games to look forward to on Friday:
Return of the Klubot: CLE @ BAL, 7:05 p.m. ET
Corey Kluber is just a few pitches away from finding his groove. Kluber, the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner, is currently leading the league in losses despite pitching relatively well. The right-hander has a 3.65 ERA and a 5:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio, but he's still lost nine of his first 12 decisions.
Kluber's June is a perfect microcosm of his year. The 29-year-old has lost four straight starts, two of them at home and two on the road, and the Indians have scored two runs or fewer in all of them. Kluber has a 4.00 ERA over his last four starts, and he's held opponents to a .245 batting average.
The Orioles will go with Wei-Yin Chen, another tough-luck pitcher this season. Chen, who won 16 games with a 3.54 ERA last season, has gone 3-4 with a 2.89 mark in his first 13 outings this year.
Chen has walked 19 batters and allowed 11 home runs in his first 81 innings of work.
Ace and a Rook: CIN @ NYM, 7:10 p.m. ET
Johnny Cueto gets to play the role of ripened veteran at the grand age of 29 as he's matched against Noah Syndergaard, a veteran of eight big league starts. Cueto, the runner-up in Cy Young Award voting in 2014, has been one of the league's most consistent starters for the last five years.
Cueto has a 2.54 ERA over his last 115 starts and his last 768 innings, and he's off to another solid start. The right-hander has gone 4-4 with a 2.98 ERA and 86 strikeouts in his first 13 starts this season. Cueto has been really good at home this year (1.74 ERA), although shaky (4.01 ERA) on the road.
Syndergaard is still trying to find his footing. The 22-year-old is 2-4 with a 4.03 ERA through his first eight outings, but he's gone four starts without a victory. The rookie got lit up for seven earned runs in his first start of the month, but he's struck out more batters than he's walked in every outing.
Battle of the bombers: NYY @ HOU, 8:10 p.m. ET
The Yankees may have the Bronx Bombers as their age-old nickname, but this year, they're slugging it out with the Astros in the power department. Houston is first in home runs (107) and third in the AL in slugging percentage (.425), while the Yankees rank second in both categories (98 and .434).
Nathan Eovaldi, a Houston native, will get the ball for the Yankees, and he'll try to corral the team's free-swinging lineup. Eovaldi has allowed just eight home runs this season. The right-hander, however, has already allowed 100 hits, and he allowed a National League-worst 223 hits for Miami last year.
Vincent Velasquez, just 23 years old, will be making his fourth career start for Houston. The former second-round draftee has three no-decisions so far, but he has a 4.15 ERA to show for it. Prior to his promotion, Velasquez was 25-14 with a 3.26 ERA over the course of his five-year Minor League career.