Cueto's KC debut tops what to watch today

Cueto's KC debut tops what to watch today

Johnny Cueto made 213 starts as a member of the Cincinnati Reds.

Now, he'll get his first chance to wear Royal blue.

Cueto, acquired by Kansas City earlier in the week, will be jumping into a pennant race and trying to learn the American League hitters simultaneously. Cueto jumped more than 15 games in the standings by leaving Cincinnati and joining the Royals, and his first AL start will come against Toronto.

The Blue Jays have distinguished themselves as the highest-scoring team in baseball this year, and they have their own recent trade pickups in Troy Tulowitzki and David Price. The Blue Jays are hovering around .500, but they're counting on their Deadline pickups to give them a strong finishing kick.

Here are a few other matchups and games to look forward to today.

Thirst for First: WAS @ NYM, 7:10 p.m. ET
The Nationals have a thin edge in the National League East standings, and they'll be matched up against their closest division rival this weekend. Washington and New York are the only two teams in the division with a winning record, and the Nationals have gone 6-4 against the Mets so far this year.

The Mets will send Matt Harvey to the mound in the series opener, and he's already faced Washington three times this season. Harvey is 2-1 with a 1.80 ERA against the Nationals, and he's held All-Star Bryce Harper to an 0-for-14 line with seven strikeouts. Harvey is 6-2 with a 2.91 ERA at home.

Harvey excels with arm, bat

The Nationals will counter with southpaw Gio Gonzalez, who has racked up an 8-4 record and a 3.83 ERA in 18 starts this season. Gonzalez, an All-Star in 2011 and '12, has been pretty consistent with Washington, but his current ERA is the highest he's posted since 2009.

Madison in Texas: SF @ TEX, 8:05 p.m. ET
Madison Bumgarner will make his first appearance against the Rangers since Game 4 of the 2010 World Series, and he'll be looking for similar results. Bumgarner became the fourth-youngest starter to win a World Series game that night, when he threw eight innings in a 4-0 win.

So what has he done since then? Bumgarner, 25 years old, has gone 71-48 with a 3.09 ERA since the 2010 season, and he was named the Most Valuable Player of the 2014 World Series. Bumgarner has three All-Star Games to his credit, and he's 11-5 with a 3.16 ERA in 20 starts this season.

Bumgarner strikes out seven

The Rangers will counter with Nick Martinez, who is just a year younger than Bumgarner but has only two years of big league experience. Martinez, a late-round selection in the 2011 Draft, lost 12 games as a rookie last year, and he's 5-6 with a 4.08 ERA in 18 starts this year.

Counting Cards: COL @ STL, 8:15 p.m. ET
The Cardinals have the biggest division lead in the NL, but they know they'll have to finish strong to keep Pittsburgh from wresting away the title. The Cards went into Thursday's series opener with an astounding 37-15 record at home, which ranks as the best for any team in either league.

St. Louis will send Michael Wacha to the mound, and he'll be trying to reverse a run of adverse results. Wacha is 11-4 with a 3.27 ERA in 19 starts, but he's been knocked around for 13 runs in his last three outings. Wacha has a much better home ERA (2.86) than road (3.57) this season.

Wacha's quality start vs. Braves

Veteran Kyle Kendrick will oppose Wacha, and he's suffering through the worst season of his career. Kendrick is 4-11 with a 6.33 ERA in his first year with the Rockies, and he's been hit hard both at home (7.27 ERA) and on the road (5.52). Kendrick is 6-3 with a 3.53 career ERA against the Cardinals.

Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.