Key things to watch for in today's games

Key things to watch for in today's games

Several key series with playoff implications continue Sunday across Major League Baseball as the regular season nears its conclusion.

Here are five games to watch on Sunday:

Cardinals, Cubs conclude series: STL @ CHC, 2:20 p.m. ET
Joe Maddon's Cubs have let everyone know they're not satisfied with just being in the playoffs as a National League Wild Card winner -- they want to win the division. The Cardinals' lead in the NL Central continues to shrink, thanks to the Cubs, who go for a three-game sweep at Wrigley Field.

The Cubs send Jon Lester to the mound, while the Cardinals counter with Carlos Martinez.

AL Wild Card contenders square off: LAA @ MIN, 2:10 p.m.
The American League Wild Card race is one of the most intriguing remaining in the season's final weeks, with at least five teams having a realistic shot at qualifying for the two Wild Card spots. The Twins and Angels are right in the thick of things after Saturday's doubleheader.

This marquee series concludes Sunday at Target Field with Angels right-hander Matt Shoemaker (7-9, 4.31 ERA) facing Minnesota righty Tyler Duffey (3-1, 3.72).

Duffey's excellent start

Harvey returns: NYY @ NYM, 8:08 p.m.
Mets right-hander Matt Harvey, who has thrown 171 2/3 innings in his first season back from Tommy John surgery, starts for the Mets in the Subway Series finale. Harvey isn't expected to throw more than five or six innings as the Mets monitor his workload with the postseason in mind.

The Yankees send CC Sabathia to the mound after the lefty threw 6 2/3 shutout innings against the Rays in his last time out.

Sabathia's scoreless outing

Cole faces Dodgers: PIT @ LAD, 4:10 p.m.
The Pirates have been struggling lately, but still remain firmly in the postseason picture. Pittsburgh starts ace right-hander Gerrit Cole on Sunday against the Dodgers, who counter with Mike Bolsinger.

Cole is 2-0 with a 4.50 ERA in three career starts against L.A.

Cole's eight strikeouts

King Felix, Holland duel: SEA @ TEX, 3:05 p.m.
The Rangers have leapfrogged the Astros into first place in the AL West, thanks not only in large part to Houston's struggles, but also to the return of key players from injury. Derek Holland is one of those players, as the lefty is 3-1 with a 3.64 ERA in six starts since being reinstated from the disabled list -- though he's allowed five runs in each of his past two outings.

Seattle ace Felix Hernandez starts for the Mariners. He blanked the Rangers over eight innings on Sept. 10.

King Felix's masterful start

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