Key things to watch for in today's games
Saturdays in the fall carry tons of excitement on the field -- and just as much intrigue in the standings.
Here are a few things to watch for in Saturday's slate of games:
NL Central battle: PIT @ STL, 4:05 p.m. ET
The Cardinals have been perched atop the NL Central standings for virtually the entire season, but the Pirates have kept after them, and this weekend series at Busch Stadium gives Pittsburgh a prime opportunity to chip away at St. Louis' division lead. Neither Jaime Garcia nor Charlie Morton has faced this opponent in 2015, but Morton pitched one-hit ball through seven shutout innings in his last Busch Stadium start (July 7, 2014). Still, the Pirates have lost each of his last nine starts against the Cardinals.
Arrieta encore: ARI @ CHC, 2:20 p.m. ET
It'll be tough for Jake Arrieta to top his last performance, but in the interest of keeping up in the standings, the Cubs need him to give it a good shot. In a follow-up to his no-hitter against the Dodgers last Sunday, the right-hander gets the D-backs on Saturday. He'll be looking for a September as formidable as his August (when he went 6-0 with a 0.43 ERA for the month). Robbie Ray starts for the D-backs, looking to go seven innings for the first time in seven starts.
Playoff upstarts? MIN @ HOU, 7:10 p.m. ET
It's pretty safe to say that not many people thought these two clubs would be in the thick of playoff races at this point in the season, but it's hard to predict baseball and here we are. The Twins are chasing an AL Wild Card spot while the Astros have a division title on their mind. Right-handers Ervin Santana and Lance McCullers set the table on Saturday night in Houston.
Looking for a win: ATL @ WAS, 7:05 p.m. ET
On a personal level, Braves right-hander Shelby Miller is looking for any way to get back in the win column and stop a 19-start winless streak that dates back months (though he's received two or fewer runs of support 12 times during the stretch). On a team level, the Nationals need victories at every turn in order to catch the Mets in the NL East standings. It'll be Joe Ross on the hill for Washington.