Zack Greinke is no longer with the Dodgers, but in a way, he still will be following Clayton Kershaw when he takes the mound tonight at AT&T Park.
Giants left-hander Madison Bumgarner's more recent outing came against Kershaw and the Dodgers last Friday in Los Angeles, a game San Francisco dropped, 7-3. This time Bumgarner matches up against Greinke, who this offseason spurned both the Dodgers and the Giants to sign a six-year deal with the D-backs.
Below are some games to watch today on MLB.TV, with a full slate headlined by the National League West aces (all times ET).
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Sale goes for four: [email protected], 2:10 p.m.
White Sox ace Chris Sale (3-0, 2.35 ERA) aims for what would be his Major League-leading fourth win of the season. Sale, whose 23 strikeouts are tied for second in the American League behind Boston's David Price, is looking to extend his dominance over the Angels, as he's a perfect 4-0 with a 1.64 ERA in five starts against Los Angeles. Since the beginning of the 2015 season, Sale's 13 games with 10 strikeouts or more are tied with Kershaw for the most in the big leagues.
"He just seemed to be on his game," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said after Sale spun a shutout at Tampa Bay last Friday. "I think throwing strikes early in counts, too -- you get a guy like him, and you can kind of see the strategy of getting after it early. … Just a great job by him."
The Halos will counter with Garrett Richards, who earned a hard-luck no-decision in his last start against the Twins after leaving with a 4-2 lead through six innings. Richards began last season with a 9-5 record, but is just 6-8 since the 2015 All-Star break. The right-hander is 2-0 in two career starts against Chicago.
Stat that matters: In 13 contests prior to Tuesday's games, the Angels had stolen just three bases, the second-lowest total in the AL. After finishing second with 134 steals in 2012, the club has finished below the league average in each of the past three seasons.
Young arms square off: [email protected], 6:10 p.m.
The Mariners' Taijuan Walker and the Indians' Danny Salazar both are off to solid starts this season heading into their matchup at Progressive Field. Walker, 23, has allowed a total of three runs over a pair of six-inning outings, although he also has struck out a modest four batters in both games. He now heads out on the road for the first time this year to take on Salazar, who has given up just one run while racking up 16 Ks in 11 1/3 innings. This is the first home start of 2016 for the 26-year-old, whose ERA in Cleveland last season stood at 2.96.
Stat that matters: Among pitchers with 350-plus innings since 2013, when Salazar debuted, the right-hander owns MLB's sixth-highest strikeout rate, at 26.7 percent. That puts him behind only Yu Darvish, Kershaw, Sale, Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg.
Dueling Zeroes: [email protected], 7:15 p.m.
Game 2 of the opening series between these two AL Central rivals features a matchup of two unbeaten and nearly unblemished pitchers. Tigers starter Jordan Zimmermann (2-0, 0.00 ERA) has adjusted seamlessly to AL play, tossing 13 combined scoreless innings in his first two starts. If Zimmermann gets through tonight's start unscathed, he will become just the second Detroit starter to post scoreless outings in each of his first three starts of the season. Right-hander Bernie Boland is the other -- way back in 1915.
Meanwhile, Royals starter Ian Kennedy (2-0, 0.66 ERA) also is enjoying his return to the AL. Kennedy, who signed a five-year, $70 million deal with Kansas City this past offseason, has allowed just one run and seven hits in 13 2/3 innings. Kennedy is 0-2 with a 5.71 ERA in three career starts against the Tigers.
Stat that matters: Prior to Tuesday's games, Royals left fielder Alex Gordon was hitting line drives in 45.8 percent of his batted balls, leading all Major League position players. Consequently, his .417 batting average on balls in play (BABIP) ranked 15th in the big leagues.
Battle by the Bay: [email protected], 10:15 p.m.
The last time Bumgarner and Greinke locked horns, the pitching duel lived up to the hype. It was last Sept. 1 at Dodger Stadium, and Greinke got the best of the matchup by allowing one run over 7 1/3 innings, while Bumgarner -- who had homered off Greinke the previous year -- surrendered two runs over seven frames. L.A. won, 2-1, extending its division lead to 5 1/2 games. Will their first meeting with Greinke in a D-backs uniform follow suit? Neither pitcher has exactly been himself early in 2016. Bumgarner lasted only five innings and allowed seven runs (four earned) at Dodger Stadium last Friday, and April has been a difficult month for him during his career, relatively speaking. Greinke has a 6.75 ERA over three starts but has improved in each one and limited the Padres to two runs over 7 1/3 innings his last time out, at San Diego.
"All the pitches were working pretty good and hopefully [I can] keep building that," Greinke said afterward. "I've got a really tough team next time. I know they've got a really good offense. They're tough."
Stat that matters: Bumgarner has struck out at least six batters and allowed no more than three earned runs in each of his last 17 starts at AT&T Park, going back to last April.
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