Aces toe the rubber for final spring outings

Arrieta vs. Gray, Wainwright vs. Strasburg highlight today's exhibitions

Aces toe the rubber for final spring outings

Opening Day is less than a week away, meaning many pitchers will be making their final spring tuneups in the coming days. On Tuesday, several of the game's top hurlers will do just that, with marquee names such as Adam Wainwright, Stephen Strasburg, Madison Bumgarner, Jake Arrieta, Sonny Gray, Masahiro Tanaka and Chris Sale taking the hill.

Fans can catch many of these pitchers in their final Grapefruit and Cactus League action live on MLB.TV, where nine of the 16 games on tap for Tuesday will be available for streaming. Here's a few things to watch for throughout the day (all times in ET):

Cards' Wainwright takes on Strasburg, Nationals: WSH@STL, 1:05 p.m., MLB.TV
Wainwright will be among the first pitchers to take the mound for the regular season when his Cardinals visit the Pirates for the very first game on the 2016 schedule. In the meantime, however, Wainwright still has one last spring tuneup set for Tuesday against the Nationals.

He'll start at Roger Dean Stadium opposite Washington's Strasburg, who has put together a solid spring, allowing just five runs and striking out 19 batters through 15 innings. Strasburg is scheduled to pitch the Nationals' home opener on April 7 vs. the Marlins. He'll try to pick up where he left off at the end of last season when he posted a 1.90 ERA and a 92-to-8 strikeout-to-walk ratio over his final 10 starts.

Strasburg strikes out nine Yanks

Chicago, Oakland aces compete in Mesa: OAK@CHC, 4:05 p.m., MLB.TV
The Cubs' visit to Mesa, Ariz., to face the A's features quite the pitching matchup with Oakland ace Gray opposing the reigning National League Cy Young Award winner Arrieta. The game will be Arrieta's first appearance since he was limited to just one-third of an inning his last time out because of a blister on his right thumb. But after a successful side session Sunday, Arrieta is ready to return to action for his last Cactus League start and remains on track to pitch against the Angels in Anaheim on Monday.

"There's nothing holding him back now," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "He's fine to pitch Opening Day."

It'll also be the final spring outing for Gray, who is preparing for his third consecutive Opening Day assignment. The 26-year-old righty pitched six innings in a Minor League game Thursday, eclipsing 90 pitches.

Maddon on Arrieta, bullpen

Bumgarner makes final spring start: SF@KC, 9:05 p.m., MLB.TV
Bumgarner will get his last exhibition work in against the defending champion Royals under the lights at Surprise Stadium. The Giants' ace will increase his pitch count to 90 for the evening matchup in advance of his Opening Day start next week.

The Royals will counter with right-hander Yordano Ventura, whose regular-season debut was bumped to Kansas City's third game, a series opener against the Twins, so he could have extra time coming back from a bout of the flu. Danny Duffy and Chien-Ming Wang are also scheduled to pitch in relief.

Bumgarner on his haircut, health

Tanaka looks to answer skipper's challenge: NYY@PHI, 1:05 p.m., MLB.TV
Tanaka's final spring start has some added stakes after Yankees manager Joe Girdardi challenged the right-hander to "dial it up" when New York visits the Phillies in Clearwater, Fla. Tanaka has been inconsistent this spring -- going 1-1 with a 7.36 ERA in four starts -- and Girdardi has yet to commit to him for Opening Day against the Astros.

"I don't think his [splitter] has been as sharp. There have been some starts he hasn't thrown it a lot," Girardi said. "I think it's a guy that's a veteran guy, in a sense, even though he's not that old. He kind of takes his time easing into it, but we're pretty close to the start of the season."

Tanaka fans Harper

Left-hander Brett Oberholtzer will start for the Astros. He'll begin the year in Houston's bullpen, but he will get the ball Tuesday after scheduled starter Adam Morgan was sent to the Minors.

Richards takes the hill for Angels' Cactus League finale: CLE@LAA, 3:10 p.m., MLB.TV
The Angels wrap their Cactus League schedule with right-hander Garrett Richards on the mound against the Indians at Tempe Diablo Stadium. Richards, the Angels' expected Opening Day starter, will be followed by Tyler Skaggs, who will pitch three innings in his second live game action since Tommy John surgery in August 2014. For Cleveland, Trevor Bauer will start. He's 1-0 with a 3.21 ERA in four previous spring appearances (three starts).

Sale, White Sox host the Rangers: TEX@CWS, 4:05 p.m., Gameday Audio
For the last time this spring, Sale will toe the rubber in a Cactus League game. The 26-year-old lefty is slated to start Chicago's season-opener against the A's on April 4th. He has a 4.76 ERA through two spring starts (11 1/3 innings).

The Rangers will give the ball to right-hander A.J. Griffin. He's the presumed favorite to earn the No. 5 spot in the Texas rotation, and Tuesday's game lines him up for that.

Chad Thornburg is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.