Mets hurler, fellow star pitchers will make first spring start Thursday
By Paul Casella
Thursday will bring with it another full slate of Spring Training games -- and another round of aces making their 2016 debuts.
Fans everywhere can watch on MLB.TV as Mets right-hander Noah Syndergaard makes his Grapefruit League debut against the Cardinals and Cubs lefty Jon Lester makes his Cactus League debut against the Mariners. Red Sox newcomer David Price is also set to make his first start with the club when Boston hosts the Twins.
Here are some things to watch for throughout the day:
Syndergaard set for spring debut: STL@NYM, 1:10 p.m., MLB.TV
The Mets will continue to roll out the big guns, sending Syndergaard to the mound after Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom made their own spring debuts on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively. Syndergaard takes the hill hoping to build off his impressive rookie season, during which he went 9-7 with a 3.24 ERA over 24 starts.
St. Louis will counter with lefty Jaime Garcia, who will be making his second spring appearance. The veteran pitcher, who has averaged only 12 starts per year over the last three seasons, allowed three runs over two innings last Friday against the Astros.
Lester makes first spring start: CHC@SEA, 3:10 p.m., MLB.TV
Though Lester will defer to co-ace and reigning National League Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta on Opening Day, the 32-year-old righty is still coming off a solid season of his own. Lester finished his first season in Chicago with a 3.34 ERA in 32 starts and has a 2.88 combined ERA over the past two seasons.
Seattle will turn to newcomer Wade Miley, who tossed two scoreless innings in his Mariners debut last Saturday.
Zimmermann looking to settle in with Tigers: DET@PHI, 1:05 p.m., MLB.TV Jordan Zimmermann's second spring start with the Tigers figures to come with much less fanfare than his first outing with the club. After facing his former Nationals teammates last Saturday, Zimmermann will return to the mound on Thursday to take on the Phillies.
The Phillies, meanwhile, will call on 22-year-old righty Aaron Nola, who is competing to earn the Opening Day nod. It will be the second start this spring for Nola, who went 6-2 with a 3.59 ERA over 13 starts as a rookie last season.
Kennedy, Fulmer square off in spring rematch: KC@CWS (ss), 3:05 p.m., MLB.TV
Royals newcomer Ian Kennedy is wasting no time getting accustomed to the AL Central-rival White Sox. Kennedy will face Chicago for the second time in as many starts this spring when he toes the rubber against a White Sox split squad. He allowed one run on four hits over two innings last Saturday.
The White Sox will also use the same starter they used in Kennedy's Royals debut, calling on top prospect Carson Fulmer. The eighth overall pick in last year's Draft, the 22-year-old Fulmer conceded three runs on five hits over two innings in his first career game in a White Sox uniform.
Miller, Heaney duel in the desert: ARI@LAA, 3:10 p.m., MLB.TV
Arizona right-hander Shelby Miller will make his second start with the club when the D-backs travel to Tempe Diablo Stadium to take on the Angels. Miller, acquired from the Braves in a blockbuster deal this offseason, yielded a pair of runs on five hits and a walk over two innings in his spring debut last Saturday.
On the other side, left-hander Andrew Heaney will be making his spring debut after being scratched from his first scheduled start due to illness. A first-round pick in the 2012 Draft, Heaney went 6-4 with a 3.49 ERA over 18 starts in his first season with the Angels in '15.
Price preps for season in Sox debut: MIN@BOS, 1:05 p.m., Gameday Audio
Price, who signed a seven-year, $217 million contract this offseason, will make his highly anticipated team debut on Thursday against the Twins. Boston is also expected to have Hanley Ramirez, Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz and Xander Bogaerts all back in the lineup after resting the last two days.
Maeda looks to build off solid first start: LAD@OAK, 3:05 p.m., Gameday Audio Kenta Maeda looked exactly as advertised in his spring debut last Saturday, striking out a pair of hitters over two scoreless innings against the D-backs. The right-hander will look to continue his transition from Japan to the Major Leagues when he squares off against the A's and veteran lefty Rich Hill.
Paul Casella is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @paul_casella. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.