Cueto-Waino duel highlights night of aces on MLB.TV
Giants face Cards on MLB Network, MLB Plus; Thor takes on Miami in first start since ejection
By Andrew Simon
The first meeting of 2016 between the Cardinals and Giants will grab the Major League spotlight tonight, as MLB Network's Showcase game.
When St. Louis' Adam Wainwright takes the Busch Stadium mound at 8:15 p.m. ET, fans also will be able to follow the action on MLB Plus, a data-driven online broadcast that utilizes Statcast™ and other advanced analytics to provide a deeper view of the action. The MLB Plus broadcast will be available for free on MLB.TV, as Wainwright faces Johnny Cueto and a first-place San Francisco club that has won 17 of its last 21.
MLB.TV Premium returns with the same features as last year, but at $109.99, it is a full 20 bucks cheaper than the 2015 cost. This package has the best value and provides access to more than 400 devices and a free subscription to the MLB.com At Bat Premium app (a $19.99 value). It offers the best picture quality ever -- a new 60 frames per second -- for supported devices. Monthly signups for MLB.TV Premium are now underway as well for $24.99.
The new MLB.TV Single Team package is also now available as an $84.99 yearly subscription. You can watch a single team's live out-of-market games in full HD.
Here is a look at what to watch for today in the Majors (all times ET):
NL powers collide: SF@STL, 8:15 p.m.
Before 2015, the Cardinals and Giants had combined to represent the National League in five consecutive World Series, with San Francisco taking head-to-head matchups in the '12 and '14 NL Championship Series. Last season, the Cardinals won four of six in the season series, advancing to the postseason while the Giants stayed home. However, as the clubs clash for the first time this year, the surging Giants (34-22) lead the NL West by 5 1/2 games, while the Cardinals (28-26) are third in the NL Central, 10 behind the Cubs.
St. Louis has won Wainwright's past seven starts, although the veteran right-hander has allowed at least three runs in six of those outings, posting a 4.89 ERA over that span. Cueto is a familiar foe for the Cards, having started against them 20 times during his days with the Reds, and the righty has been on his game lately. The reigning NL Player of the Week has a 0.92 ERA in his last five outings, throwing a two-hit shutout against the Padres on May 23, then allowing one earned run over six innings at Coors Field last Sunday, despite battling back stiffness.
"It was a really gutty effort," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said after that game. "He was just a touch off today."
Stat that matters: Cueto hasn't walked more than two batters in any of his 11 starts this season and has walked only three left-handed batters in 127 plate appearances.
Thor's back: NYM@MIA, 7:10 p.m.
The Mets' Syndergaard takes the mound for the series opener at Marlins Park, his first start since he was ejected last Saturday after 2 1/3 innings for throwing behind the Dodgers' Chase Utley. Syndergaard did make a relief appearance on Tuesday, striking out two in a scoreless frame against the White Sox. The big right-hander has allowed no more than two runs in eight of his 10 starts, including against Miami on April 12, when he struck out 12 over seven innings. Righty Tom Koehler will go for the Marlins, who trail the Mets by one game and the first-place Nationals by four in the NL East.
Stat that matters: Hitters have a 40.4-percent chase rate against Syndergaard, the highest against any qualified pitcher.
Zimmermann returns: CWS@DET, 7:10 p.m.
Before a groin strain interrupted his start against the Rays on May 22, Zimmermann was enjoying a strong first season with the Tigers. Despite giving up seven earned runs in his previous outing, the right-hander sports a 2.52 ERA. Now his Tigers meet lefty Carlos Rodon's White Sox for the first time this season, for a three-game set at Comerica Park. Following a seven-game losing streak, Chicago (29-25) won its last two against the Mets and is now tied with Cleveland for second in the AL Central, 1 1/2 games behind Kansas City. As for Detroit, it will hope Zimmermann stays healthy after he successfully completed a series of fielding drills on Monday to test the groin.
"Everything went fine," Zimmermann said afterward. "I did everything. I didn't feel one single thing."
Stat that matters: While Rodon is limiting left-handed batters to a .546 OPS this season, righties have reached him for a .300/.366/.447 line, with seven homers.
No. 2 for Yu: SEA@TEX, 8:05 p.m.
First place in the AL West is on the line as the Rangers and Mariners open a three-game series at Globe Life Park, with the clubs having split their first six meetings of the season. But Texas didn't have Darvish in any of those games. The righty took the mound last Saturday against the Pirates for his first big league appearance since August 2014 and showed no ill effects from Tommy John surgery. Despite being limited to five innings and 81 pitches, Darvish allowed one run on three hits, walked one and struck out seven.
"I'm not going to be satisfied with one outing," Darvish said in response. "I've got the rest of the season to go."
Stat that matters: Righty Taijuan Walker, who starts for the Mariners, posted a 1.80 ERA through his first five starts but a 5.18 mark in his five outings since then.
MLB.TV Premium subscribers get the Mosaic View -- split screen or quad, available on PC or Mac only. That always comes in handy, especially when scoreboard-watching looms. MLB.TV Premium and MLB.TV Single Team subscribers both enjoy HD and both will get real-time highlights and player stats automatically loaded moments after they occur (only for the game you are watching with MLB.TV Single Team, and for all games with MLB.TV Premium).
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.