Price faces another former team; Arrieta puts quality start streak on the line
By Andrew Simon
There is no shortage of top-tier starting pitching lined up for today.
The schedule gets going in style, with Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers taking on the Braves at 12:10 p.m. ET at Turner Field. The three-time Cy Young Award winner is at it again early in 2016, with a 1.64 ERA over his first three outings.
The 13th and final game is set for 9:10 p.m. in San Diego, where the Padres will take their cuts against the Pirates' Gerrit Cole, who rebounded for a tough season debut to notch a quality start his last time out against Detroit.
The whole pitching-packed slate is viewable on MLB.TV.
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Here is a look at some of the best on tap for today (all times ET):
It's Kershaw Day: LAD@ATL, 12:10 p.m.
Kershaw has made only one regular-season start at Turner Field, which is now in its final season, and that was back in 2011. The left-hander did also win Game 1 of the 2013 National League Division Series there as well. It goes to show how good Kershaw has been -- and how much he expects from himself -- that he wasn't particularly happy after holding the Giants to two earned runs on five hits over seven innings in his last start. In particular, he felt his offspeed pitches still need improvement.
"Some of them were OK. I think they were a little bit better today than they were in San Francisco [on April 9]," Kershaw said. "Overall, I still have a lot to get better at. The consistency of it, I want to throw a good one every time, it's definitely not there right now. It's why you play, just keep working."
Stat that matters: No qualified pitcher this season has held opponents to a lower on-base percentage (.152) than Kershaw, and only Mat Latos can beat his .360 opponent OPS.
Max takes Miami: WAS@MIA, 1:10 p.m.
Nationals right-hander Max Scherzer will make his fourth consecutive start against a National League East opponent to begin the season when he takes the mound at Marlins Park for the series finale. So far the schedule has worked out well for Scherzer, who owns a 3.15 ERA after holding the Phillies to one run over seven innings in his last start. In his first season with Washington, Scherzer certainly enjoyed pitching in Miami, tossing 15 scoreless innings over two outings there.
Stat that matters: In his last five road starts going back to last season, Scherzer has allowed a total of five runs over 37 innings (1.22 ERA), giving up 24 hits and three walks, with 47 strikeouts. That includes his 17-strikeout no-hitter against the Mets in his 2015 finale.
Former team, Part II: TB@BOS, 1:35 p.m. David Price's trip down memory lane continues when the Red Sox host the Rays. His last time out, Price held one of his three previous clubs (Toronto) to two runs over seven innings, while striking out nine and picking up his first Fenway Park win as a member of the home team. Now he takes on his original team, something he has done three other times, twice with the Tigers and once with the Blue Jays. Price dominated Tampa Bay in their first meeting, back in 2014, but last season gave up five runs in both matchups.
Stat that matters: Price's opponent, Jake Odorizzi, has the fifth-highest road ERA (4.97) of any pitcher with 30-plus road starts since 2014. Over the same span, his home ERA (2.56) is the seventh-lowest.
Cueto goes home again: ARI@SF, 3:45 p.m. Johnny Cueto has been brilliant on the road in the early stages of his Giants tenure, allowing two runs on nine hits over 14 innings. But in his one outing at AT&T Park, the rival Dodgers touched him up for six runs, albeit in a game Cueto still managed to win. The right-hander now takes on another NL West foe in Arizona, looking to move to 4-0 this year while capturing his 100th career victory. Cueto opposes righty Shelby Miller, who was forced to leave his last start in the second inning after sustaining cuts on his right index finger while scraping his hand on the mound during his follow through.
"It was kind of weird," Miller said. "When I was out there, I was kind of trying to fix myself while I was doing it and had to figure out a way not to do that again. That's obviously not what you want."
Stat that matters: Cueto's first-pitch strike rate of 74.7 percent led all qualified pitchers entering Wednesday.
Arrieta on a roll: CHC@CIN, 7:10 p.m.
MLB's second-longest active quality start streak belongs to Stephen Strasburg, with eight. That's nearly three times shorter than the longest such streak, which will be on the line at Great American Ball Park in this series opener. Jake Arrieta has given up no more than three earned runs in at least six innings pitched in 23 consecutive starts, going back to last June 21. The reigning NL Cy Young Award winner's ERA during that 169-inning span is 0.91. That includes a pair of scoreless outings in 2016, the second of which came last Saturday against the Rockies (eight innings, eight strikeouts).
"This game will humble you, and it can do it in a heartbeat," Arrieta said afterward. "I think remaining humble and working hard regardless of your success or failure is the way to approach it. … That's why I try to work the way I do between starts, to prepare so when I take the mound, that's the fun part."
Stat that matters: Reds first baseman Joey Votto, who is 0-for-14 with six strikeouts over his past four games, already has five contests this season in which he has been unable to reach base safely in at least four plate appearances. That happened only 12 times in all of 2015.
Dallas vs. Arlington: HOU@TEX, 8:05 p.m.
After allowing five runs and walking 10 over two road starts to begin 2016, the Astros' Dallas Keuchel got well back at Minute Maid Park last Friday, issuing one free pass over eight scoreless innings. The splits are nothing new for the defending American League Cy Young Award winner, who posted a 1.46 ERA at home last season, compared with 3.77 in away games. In fact, Keuchel's worst outing of the year -- by a long shot -- came at Globe Life Park last Sept. 16, when he surrendered nine earned runs on 11 hits and three homers over 4 2/3 innings.
Stat that matters: In eight April starts over the past two years, Keuchel has allowed only seven extra-base hits, including zero home runs.
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Andrew Simon is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewSimonMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.