Cubs send Arrieta against Braves to help strengthen their bid as contender
By Spencer Fordin
The Cubs are currently in position for the National League's second Wild Card slot. Their rookie contingent of Kris Bryant, Kyle Schwarber and Addison Russell is thriving. And they'll have one of the hottest pitchers in the game heading to the mound Thursday as Jake Arrieta will be going for his 12th straight quality start and his league-leading 15th victory. Arrieta has delivered a 1.35 ERA over his last 11 starts, and he's held hitters to a .166 batting average in that span.
The Braves will counter with Mike Foltynewicz. The 23-year-old has gone 4-4 with a 5.61 ERA in 16 appearances this season, and all but three of have come as a starting pitcher.
Here are a few other matchups and games to look forward to on Thursday.
Power matchup: KC @ BOS, 7:10 p.m. ET
The Royals have the largest division lead in baseball, but they'll have to face off against a Red Sox team that is finally starting to hit for power. Boston combined for 37 runs in a two-game span last week, and it followed up by scoring at least eight runs twice in a three-game span from Sunday to Tuesday.
Southpaw Danny Duffy will start for the Royals. He has been nearly equal at home (4.09 ERA) and on the road (3.97 ERA), and he's 3-1 with a 2.97 ERA in six starts since the All-Star break. Wade Miley last started for the Red Sox on Saturday, and he took the victory in a 22-10 rout of the Mariners.
West watch: TB @ HOU, 8:10 p.m. ET
The Astros still maintain control of the American League West, but both the Angels and Rangers are charging hard on their heels. Houston will start Collin McHugh on Thursday, and he'll be matched against the Rays' Chris Archer, who is 2-1 with a 1.09 ERA in four career starts against the Astros. Archer has 194 strikeouts in 160 innings pitched this season, but he's coming off an outing that saw him allow seven earned runs.
McHugh has won four of his last five decisions, and he's racked up a 2.84 ERA with just one home run allowed in his last six starts.
Struggling Scherzer: WAS @ COL, 8:40 p.m. ET
Max Scherzer is currently working through an uncharacteristically rough patch. He's given up 13 earned runs in his last three starts and he has a 4.61 ERA since the start of July, and Thursday will bring him to Coors Field. Scherzer hasn't thrown in Colorado since 2009, and he's logged an 0-2 record with a 5.33 ERA in three career starts at Coors Field. He's also held opponents to a .199 batting average and a .235 on-base percentage in 13 road starts this season, stats that have led him to a 7-4 record and 2.41 ERA.
The Rockies will pitch Yohan Flande in Thursday's game, and the 29-year-old is trying to establish himself as a starter. Flande is 2-1 with a 4.19 ERA this season, but only four of his 12 appearances have been starts. For his career, Flande is 2-7 with a 4.79 ERA in 28 games.
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.