Sale makes debut; Tanaka, Buchholz face off in Bronx; Scherzer goes for first Nats win
By Paul Casella
With the first week of the regular season almost in the books, some of the game's top pitchers will take their second turn through the rotation today -- and one will be making his season debut.
A number of Cy Young hopefuls (or former winners) will be on the mound in both the early and late afternoon slate of games, while a pitching duel awaits in the nightcap.
Here are some things to watch for:
• Nats newest ace going for first W, WAS @ PHI, 1:35 p.m. ET
Max Scherzer will look to notch his first win with the Nationals when he takes the mound against the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. He was charged with three runs (all unearned) over 7 2/3 innings in suffering a hard-luck, Opening Day loss against the Mets in his Nats debut.
The Phillies, meanwhile, will be attempting to hand Scherzer his second loss in as many starts since joining the NL East. Scherzer didn't suffer his second loss until June 1 last season -- and not until Sept. 3 in 2013. He's never lost a second game any earlier than April 24.
• Grand opening Sale, MIN @ CWS, 2:10 p.m. ET
Perennial Cy Young candidate Chris Sale will make his 2015 debut Sunday against the Twins after missing the first week of the season due to an avulsion fracture in his right foot. Sale is coming off a dominant season in which he went 12-4 with a miniscule 2.17 ERA en route to finishing third in American League Cy Young voting. He's finished in the top six in AL Cy Young voting in each of his three seasons as a starter.
The Twins will counter with their own ace in right-hander Phil Hughes. Hughes got the loss in his Opening Day start when he took the hill opposite yet another Cy Young-caliber pitcher, Detroit's David Price.
• Royalty takes center stage at Coliseum, SEA @ OAK, 4:05 p.m. ET
King Felix will look to build off his stellar Opening Day start when the Mariners close out a three-game set with the A's at the Coliseum. Felix Hernandez limited the division rival Angels to one run off of just two hits while striking out 10 over seven innings in Seattle's season-opening 4-1 victory.
Hernandez has dominated the A's in his career, going 19-7 with a 2.58 ERA over 35 starts, including 4-0 with a 2.22 ERA in six starts last season. That said, the A's have a very different look from a season ago, including Sunday's starter Jesse Hahn, who was traded to Oakland this offseason following a strong rookie campaign with the Padres. Hahn took the loss in his A's debut last Tuesday after allowing three runs off seven hits over six innings against the Rangers.
• Primetime pitchers' duel in the Bronx, BOS @ NYY, 8:05 p.m. ET
The Yankees and Red Sox will finish off their first three-game set of the season on Sunday in a battle of Opening Day starters. Yankees ace Masahiro Tanaka will be looking to get back on track following a subpar season debut, while Red Sox right-hander Clay Buchholz will be trying to replicate his success from his 2015 debut.
Tanaka took the Opening Day loss against the Blue Jays last week after being tagged for five runs (four earned) off five hits and two walks over four innings. Buchholz, meanwhile, looked like the former All-Star version of himself in Boston's season opener, striking out nine hitters over seven shutout innings in a win over the Phillies.
Paul Casella is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @paul_casella. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.