Key things to watch for in today's games

Key things to watch for in today's games

The first weekend of the second half of the season is here, with a full schedule of games across the country lasting all day.

Here are four things to watch for:

Lester's been losing: CHC @ ATL, 7:10 p.m. ET
Cubs ace Jon Lester has run into some tough luck lately, ending the first half of the season with his sixth consecutive loss. The southpaw hasn't won in his last 10 starts, but the Cubs have scored just three runs for him in his last six outings. On the Braves side, Manny Banuelos is nearing his innings limit and has maybe one more start before possibly ending the season as a reliever.

Feldman returns: TEX @ HOU, 7:10 p.m. ET
The Astros get right-hander Scott Feldman back in time for the series against their division and in-state rivals, the Rangers, who will start Colby Lewis on Saturday. Feldman has been out since late May with a torn right medial meniscus that required surgery. He's since made two rehab starts with Double-A Corpus Christi.

Kazmir recovering: MIN @ OAK, 9:05 p.m. ET
Oakland southpaw Scott Kazmir left his last outing against the Yankees with left triceps tightness, but he feels well enough to give it a go on Saturday against the Twins. Before that game, he threw eight shutout innings. The A's will face Phil Hughes, who finished the first half with a 4-0 record and 3.18 ERA in his last five starts. He owns a 2.30 ERA in Oakland.

Hughes' winning start

Clash of two favorites: LAD @ WAS, 4:05 p.m. ET
Two terrific starting pitchers will take the mound in this battle between two teams expected to contend for the National League crown. Clayton Kershaw finished the first half with a 13-strikeout shutout, while Doug Fister is making his first start since July 6 because of how the schedule laid out for Washington.

Joey Nowak is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter at @joeynowak. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.