What to watch for in today's games

Harvey makes long-awaited return for Mets in matinee duel against Strasburg

What to watch for in today's games

The start of the regular season is rolling along through its first week. And while today brings about series finales and a host of off-days, there are still nine games across the American and National Leagues packed with intrigue.

Here are some things to watch for:

Hooray! It's Harvey and Strasburg Day!, NYM @ WAS, 1:05 p.m. ET

Mets fans and baseball fans, really, have been waiting a long time for this, but count in Nats Nation, too.

The pitching phenom of 2013, New York right-hander Matt Harvey, is making his highly anticipated return from Tommy John surgery. Harvey went 9-5 with a 2.27 ERA and 191 strikeouts in 178 1/3 innings in 26 starts in 2013 before tearing his ulnar collateral ligament in late August. Now he's back after a scintillating spring in which his fastball was dialed back up to the high 90s.

Speaking of serious heat, the Nationals and their pick-your-Cy Young-contender rotation will hand the ball to right Stephen Strasburg for the first time in 2015. All he did last year was lead the NL in punchouts with 242. More >

Mets fans say 'Harvey's better'

AL Central showdown with new faces, CWS @ KC, 2:10 p.m. ET

The revamped White Sox offense, buoyed by new acquisitions Melky Cabrera and Adam LaRoche, gets another crack on the home field of the defending AL champs.

Meanwhile, the Kauffman Stadium faithful is itching to get its first look at Edinson Volquez, a veteran righty who was signed in the offseason to take the place of last season's innings-eating ace, James Shields, who departed for San Diego via free agency.

Volquez's scoreless start

Young arms duel in the Wild West, TEX @ OAK, 3:35 p.m. ET

The Rangers and A's are hoping to be stealth contenders in what figures to once again be a fascinating AL West race.

Both teams are full of young talent, particularly on the mound, and this game offers a glimpse at two pitchers with potential.

Rangers righty Nick Martinez got plenty of seasoning in 2014, while A's righty Kendall Graveman, a spring standout, makes his first Major League start.

A classic California confrontation, SF @ SD, 6:40 p.m. ET

The Giants didn't win the NL West last year, but they got into October via the Wild Card, and the rest -- their third World Series title in five years -- was baseball history. The veteran leadership and mound moxie of starter Tim Hudson had a lot to do with it.

Hudson faces a stiff divisional challenge against the Padres, whose offseason roster remodel and recent trade for closer Craig Kimbrel has had the rest of the sport aflutter.

Kimbrel strikes out the side

CC you in the Bronx, TOR @ NYY, 7:05 p.m. ET

If the Yankees are going to make a return engagement in the playoffs, it's pretty likely that they'll need their big horse, lefty CC Sabathia, to come back strong from the shoulder woes that cut short his 2014. He gets his first start here.

The Blue Jays have a promising lefty of their own in 21-year-old rookie Daniel Norris, who hits the upper 90s with his fastball and could help solidify a young and potentially deep Toronto staff.

Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @DougMillerMLB and read his MLBlog, Youneverknow. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.