Today's exhibition slate packed with Opening Day starters
By Chad Thornburg
Today marks the last day pitchers can get in a final spring tuneup while still starting on regular rest next week for Opening Day, resulting in a stacked deck of pitching talent for Grapefruit and Cactus League games.
Here's a few things to watch for throughout the day (all times in ET):
Harvey returns to action vs. Scherzer, Nats: WSH@NYM, 12:10 p.m. MLB.TV
After a brief blood clot scare, Matt Harvey will return to the field for his final spring tuneup in advance of his Opening Night assignment. Harvey was scratched from his Tuesday start but is back on track for the Mets' opener against the Royals, the same team that eliminated them in Game 5 of the World Series last fall.
"Fortunately, it worked out all right," New York manager Terry Collins said. "He's got medical clearance to do whatever he has to do, and he'll be ready to go."
Harvey is expected to pitch two innings against the Nationals before turning the ball over to scheduled starter Noah Syndergaard, who will assume his normal workload in relief. For the Nats, Scherzer will make his final Grapefruit League appearance. He's 2-0 with a 1.38 ERA through four games this spring and is lined up to start Washington's opener in Atlanta on Monday.
Price gets final tuneup: BOS@PIT, 1:05 p.m. MLB.TV
As expected, Red Sox manager John Farrell named Price the club's Opening Day starter earlier this week. It'll be the fifth career Opening Day assignment for Price, who signed a seven-year, $217 million deal with the Red Sox this winter. He'll take the mound one last time in an exhibition game when his Tigers head to Bradenton, Fla., to face Pittsburgh. Regulars Pablo Sandoval, Blake Swihart, Mookie Betts and Rusney Castillo are scheduled to join him on the trip. Jonathon Niese will start for the Bucs in their Grapefruit League home finale.
King Felix takes the hill: SD@SEA, 3:10 p.m., MLB.TV
Hernandez looked every bit regular-season ready his last time out. The Mariners ace tossed six scoreless innings against the White Sox last week, and will take the field one more time before starting Seattle's opener on Monday. The Padres will counter with their own Opening Day starter, right-hander Tyson Ross, as they conclude their Cactus League schedule. Ross has struggled at times this spring, going 0-2 with a 9.00 ERA through four games. He'll look to get back on track against the Mariners.
Keuchel closes out Houston's Grapefruit slate: HOU@PHI, 1:05 p.m. MLB.TV
After an off day Tuesday, the Astros will wrap their Grapefruit League schedule with their ace, Keuchel, taking the mound for an afternoon contest against the Phillies in Clearwater, Fla. Keuchel is set for his second consecutive Opening Day start when Houston travels to the Bronx to face the Yankees on Monday. Right-hander Jeremy Hellickson will start for the Phillies at Bright House Field. He'll also start Philadelphia's opener in Cincinnati next week.
Former Cy Youngs duel in Glendale: CLE@LAD, 4:05 p.m.
Two of the best pitchers in baseball will be on display at Camelback Ranch when Kershaw and the Dodgers host Kluber and the Indians. Kluber is expected to go five or six innings in his Cactus League finale, and closer Cody Allen will also pitch in relief for the Tribe. Kershaw is scheduled for an abbreviated outing before his Dodgers return to Southern California after the game for their Freeway Series against the Angels.
Santana looks to stay hot: TOR@MIN, 1:05 p.m. MLB.TV
Throughout the spring, Ervin Santana has given the Twins exactly what they hope to see in the regular season, posting a 1.13 ERA through 16 innings of work. In his first game since being named Minnesota's Opening Day starter, Santana reaffirmed his manager's decision with six scoreless frames last week.
"It's an honor," Santana said of his first Opening Day assignment. "I'm very happy for that. I'm just going to try to take it as a normal game and try not to do too much."
When Santana toes the rubber for his final Grapefruit League against the Blue Jays, he'll do so opposite Jays right-hander Gavin Floyd, who lost the competition for a rotation spot to Aaron Sanchez and will instead begin the year in the bullpen.
Neighbors clash in Jupiter: STL@MIA, 1:05 p.m., MLB.TV
The Cardinals and Marlins will meet for the seventh and final time this spring at Roger Dean Stadium, their shared facility in Jupiter. St. Louis will give the ball to Michael Wacha, who is lined up for the Cardinals' second game of their opening series in Pittsburgh. For Miami, most of its regulars are expected to play as projected long reliever David Phelps gets the start.
Chad Thornburg is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.