Groovy Tuesday: Max vs. Thor among 9 aces

May 17th, 2016

If you enjoy great pitching, then today's Major League games will be right up your alley. A number of baseball's top arms will be on display in a full 15-game slate, including a National League East showdown between the Nationals' Max Scherzer and the Mets' Noah Syndergaard.

Scherzer is coming off a historic 20-strikeout performance in last week's complete-game victory over the Tigers, while the hard-throwing Syndergaard owns a 2.53 ERA with 55 strikeouts against nine walks. It's the first head-to-head meeting between these two clubs vying for the division lead.

If Scherzer vs. Syndergaard is today's main event, then the undercard still packs quite the punch. The rest of the day's schedule is highlighted by starts from the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw, the Giants' Madison Bumgarner, the Astros' Dallas Keuchel and the D-backs' Zack Greinke. A pair of rising stars -- Toronto's Marcus Stroman and Tampa Bay's Chris Archer -- will also duel at Rogers Centre, while Boston's Rick Porcello and Kansas City's Yordano Ventura clash at Kauffman Stadium.

Fans can catch all the action live on MLB.TV.

MLB.TV Premium returns with the same features as last year, but at $109.99, it is a full 20 bucks cheaper than the 2015 cost. This package has the best value and provides access to more than 400 devices and a free subscription to the At Bat Premium app (a $19.99 value). It offers the best picture quality ever -- a new 60 frames per second -- for supported devices. Monthly signups for MLB.TV Premium are now underway as well for $24.99.

The new MLB.TV Single Team package is also now available as an $84.99 yearly subscription. You can watch a single team's live out-of-market games in full HD.

Here's what to watch for throughout the day (all times in ET):

First-place Nats head to Queens: [email protected], 7:10 p.m.

Today's series opener between the Nationals and Mets not only features two clubs expected to contend for the NL East title this season, but also two of the best fastballs in the game. Expect both Scherzer and Syndergaard to be dealing some high-quality heat from the Citi Field mound.

Thor, Max square off with game's best fastballs

Syndergaard's average velocity (97.9 mph) is tops among the 233 pitchers to have thrown at least 100 four-seam fastballs this season. He's also responsible for two of the hardest-thrown pitches of the year, touching 101.4 mph and 101.2 mph against the Phillies on April 18. Scherzer's fastball is just as devastating for opposing hitters, and ranks among the game's elite in a different way. The average spin-rate of his four-seamer (2,545 RPM) is second to none this season.

And if a marquee pitching matchup isn't enough, this divisional contest also features the return of former Met Daniel Murphy to Citi Field. Murphy, who signed a three-year, $37 million deal with Washington in the offseason, has been red-hot at the plate this year. He enters this series ranked first in the Majors with a .400 average.

"Should be a lot of fun, Murphy said. "Built a lot of relationships with the guys there. It will be nice to see them. It'll be nice if we can go and win some baseball games."

Stat that matters: Coming off a 119-pitch outing, Scherzer received an extra day of rest heading into tonight's start. He has a 3.04 ERA in 74 starts when pitching on five days' rest, compared with a 3.75 mark on regular rest.

Kershaw joins Freeway Series: [email protected], 10:10 p.m.

It may seem impossible, but even after three Cy Young Awards and an NL MVP, Kershaw is still improving as a pitcher. The Dodgers' ace is on track for what would be his best season yet. The left-hander is coming off a three-hit shutout of the Mets and has already set a new Major League record with five consecutive starts of 10 strikeouts with no more than one walk.

"Watching him doing that, man, I don't know what to think," Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen said. "I wasn't there when Sandy Koufax was there, but to see him break all these records ... he's the best, man, the best on the planet."

Kershaw will look to continue his dominance with the Angels in town for the Freeway Series. He'll take the mound tonight opposite Jered Weaver, who's struggled so far this year. The veteran right-hander retired the first 11 batters he faced in his last outing, but then allowed nine of his next 10 to reach, yielding a season-high eight earned runs.

Stat that matters: In nearly every season of his career, Kershaw strikes out more batters than ever before, and along with that, he's walking fewer and fewer. In eight starts, Kershaw has already fanned 77 batters and issued just four free passes for a incredible 19.25 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

Opening Day rematch: [email protected], 7:07 p.m.

New college graduate Stroman will take the mound for the Blue Jays tonight against Archer and the Rays in a rematch between Opening Day starters. Stroman, who attended his graduation ceremony at Duke University on Sunday, beat his Tampa Bay counterpart in the season opener. Stroman has been dominant at home; he owns a 10-2 record and a 2.77 ERA at Rogers Centre. Archer, meanwhile, has rebounded from some early inconsistency to post quality starts in three of his last four outings.

Stat that matters: Archer's five wins against the Blue Jays are tied for his most against any opponent, though he's 0-1 through two starts against them this season. He's allowed five runs in 11 innings in those two outings.

Keuchel looks to get back on track: [email protected], 8:10 p.m.

Keuchel hasn't looked anything like his Cy Young-caliber self lately, going winless with a 7.98 ERA in his last five starts. The left-hander will try to put his struggles behind him when the Astros open a three-game set against the White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field.

The White Sox, who will send Carlos Rodon to the mound, have won 10 of their last 14 games against the Astros. Rodon is also sorting through some early-season woes, however, as the lefty hasn't won since April 13 and is 0-3 with a 6.75 ERA in the five starts since.

Stat that matters: Keuchel hasn't fared well away from Houston. Since the start of the 2015 season, he's 6-12 with a 4.52 ERA in 20 road starts.

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).