Arrieta goes for another no-no; Gray-Verlander set to duel
By Andrew Simon
There are no shortage of pitching-related storylines to choose from today.
If you like potential history in the making, the Cubs' Jake Arrieta will go for a second consecutive no-hitter and the third of his career.
For a duel between two accomplished performers, how about the A's Sonny Gray against the Tigers' Justin Verlander? If a top prospect's debut is more your thing, Jose Berrios is making his first start for the Twins. Then there is the veteran trying to stay on a roll (the Nationals' Gio Gonzalez) and those trying to break early-season slumps (the Cardinals' Adam Wainwright and the Mets' Matt Harvey).
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Here is a look at what to watch for today in the Majors (all times ET):
Nats Gio: PHI@WAS, 7:05 p.m.
Gonzalez has put together three straight quality starts to begin this season for the Nationals, leading to a 1.42 ERA. The most intriguing piece of that success might be his walk rate, which stands at 5.3 percent, or about half his career total (10 percent) and well below what he posted last year (9.1 percent). Gonzalez will try to keep the free passes to a minimum against the Phillies and righty Jeremy Hellickson.
"I think he had a good winter," Nats left fielder Jayson Werth said after Gonzalez struck out eight over six innings against the Twins last Friday. "He worked hard. I think his confidence is where it needs to be. He's been working really hard. He wants to be good and do good. I'm happy for him."
Stat that matters: Gonzalez has tempted opponents to go after 13 of 40 out-of-zone first pitches this season. That 32.5 percent chase rate led qualifying pitchers through Monday.
Sonny and JV: OAK@DET, 7:10 p.m.
If this feels like a familiar matchup, that's because Gray and Verlander battled each other twice in the 2013 American League Division Series. Gray (eight scoreless innings) got the better of Verlander (seven scoreless) as the A's eked out a 1-0 victory in Game 2, but the veteran got his revenge in the winner-take-all Game 5, tossing eight scoreless with 10 strikeouts as the Tigers triumphed, 3-0. Gray, then a 23-year-old rookie, allowed three runs over five innings. The two pitchers now meet again at Comerica Park, though Gray (2.73 ERA) has been much more effective than Verlander (5.79) this season.
Stat that matters: Verlander was sharp in his last outing, against the Indians, allowing two runs on four hits over seven innings, with 10 strikeouts. It was the 30th double-digit strikeout game of his career but only his second since the beginning of the 2014 season.
Going for another no-no: MIL@CHC, 8:05 p.m.
Arrieta will try to join Johnny Vander Meer (1938) as the only pitchers to throw no-hitters in back-to-back starts when he takes on the Brewers and righty Taylor Jungmann at Wrigley Field. Also on the line is Arrieta's streak of 24 consecutive quality starts, during which he has posted a 0.86 ERA and held the Brewers to two runs over three games (all in 2015). Two more quality starts would tie Arrieta with Hall of Famer Bob Gibson (1967-68) for the modern record.
Stat that matters: Right-handed batters are hitting .092/.132/.169 with 19 strikeouts in 68 plate appearances against Arrieta this season.
Big league Berrios: CLE@MIN, 8:10 p.m.
Berrios, MLB Pipeline's No. 16 overall prospect, got his first call to the Majors to start this game against the Indians at Target Field. The 21-year-old Puerto Rico native, whom the Twins selected 32nd overall in the 2012 Draft, had a 1.06 ERA and .143 opponent average over three starts for Triple-A Rochester this season. His best outing was his most recent, as he limited the Pawtucket Red Sox to two hits and one walk over seven scoreless innings, striking out seven.
"Berrios is a guy who spent his time in the Minor Leagues to get prepared the last few years, and now it's his turn," Twins general manager Terry Ryan said. "He's got pitches, he's athletic, he's got command. He's gone up our system at a very rapid rate for a 21-year-old. We wouldn't have called him up if he wasn't ready. We had to purchase his contract. This is an opportunity for him."
Stat that matters: Indians righty Josh Tomlin has allowed only one run in both of his 2016 starts, and two or fewer runs in nine of his 12 starts since last year.
Struggling stars: CIN@NYM, 7:10 p.m.; STL@ARI, 9:40 p.m.
Wainwright is a three-time All-Star with a 3.04 career ERA and four top-three finishes in the NL Cy Young Award race. Harvey began this season with a 2.53 ERA over his first 65 career starts. Yet both hurlers enter today's action attempting to recover from some uncharacteristic struggles. Wainwright (7.25 ERA) has allowed at least three runs and struck out no more than three batters in each of his four outings, while Harvey (5.24 ERA) has completed six innings only once in four tries and owns a 14-to-8 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 22 1/3 innings.
Stat that matters: Wainwright has struck out only nine of 43 hitters after reaching two strikes (20.9 percent), the second-lowest rate among qualifying pitchers through Monday.
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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.