Mets go for sweep of Cubs; Hamels starts for Rangers
By Austin Laymance
Stephen Strasburg is set to return from the disabled list and start for the first-place Nationals this afternoon in one of several intriguing storylines heading into today's full schedule of Major League games.
Also today, the Mets give the ball to Noah Syndergaard as they go for a four-game sweep of the Cubs, ace Cole Hamels starts for the Rangers and the first professional sporting event is set to be held on an active military base.
And the best place to catch all the action is on MLB.TV.
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The new MLB.TV Single Team package is also available as a $59.99 yearly subscription. You can watch a single team's live out-of-market games in full HD.
Here's what to watch for today in the Majors (all times ET):
Strasburg set to return: CIN@WSH, 1:35 p.m.
Nationals manager Dusty Baker confirmed Saturday night that Strasburg will come off the DL and start against the Reds today in the finale of a four-game series. Strasburg has not pitched since June 15, missing just over two weeks because of back problems that flared up after he popped two ribs out of place during a weight-training mishap. The ace was able to throw a bullpen session Thursday and reported no issues. Strasburg has been dominant this year, going 10-0 with a 2.90 ERA and 118 strikeouts over 93 innings in 14 starts. Left-hander John Lamb starts for the Reds in his first career appearance against the Nats.
Stat that matters: Strasburg is 13-0 over his last 18 starts dating back to last year, with the Nationals going 17-1 in those games.
Mets go for sweep: CHC@NYM, 1:10 p.m.
Syndergaard toes the rubber for the Mets as they go for a four-game sweep of the first-place Cubs, who have dropped nine of their last 13 games. Syndergaard has been pitching through a small bone spur in his elbow and he's allowed eight runs in nine innings over his last two starts. Syndergaard last faced the Cubs in Game 2 of the National League Championship Series last October, earning the win with 5 2/3 innings of one-run ball.
Jon Lester starts for the Cubs as the southpaw looks to continue his streak of seven quality starts. Lester went 4-0 with a 1.41 ERA and 44 strikeouts in 44 2/3 innings over six starts in June, earning him NL Pitcher of the Month honors.
Stat that matters: The Mets have scored 56 runs against left-handed pitching this season, the second-lowest mark in MLB. As a team, the Mets are slashing .239/.308/.389 against lefties.
Hamels goes for Rangers: TEX@MIN, 2:10 p.m.
Hamels takes the mound as the first-place Rangers turn to their ace in the rubber game against the Twins, who will counter with Kyle Gibson. Hamels is on a roll, going 4-0 with a 0.64 ERA and .184 opponents' batting average over his last four starts. What's more, Hamels has won a club-record nine straight decisions on the road, where he is 6-0 with a 1.44 ERA this year. Gibson earned his first win of the season in his last outing, tossing seven shutout innings against the White Sox.
Stat that matters: Twins second baseman Brian Dozier has reached base in 24 consecutive games, the longest active streak in MLB.
McCarthy's season debut: COL@LAD, 4:10 p.m. Brandon McCarthy starts for the Dodgers in his season debut as he completes his return from last year's Tommy John surgery. McCarthy has not pitched in the Majors since April 25, 2015. He made four Minor League rehab appearances and threw 72 pitches his last time out.
"I don't want it to be anything different than just a start," McCarthy said. "I understand there's something more to it, but trying not to place any mental importance on it, the same way any step in a throwing program is just another step along the way."
Jon Gray gets the ball for the Rockies. Gray overcame arm soreness from two starts ago to make 101 pitches over seven innings in a win over the Blue Jays on Monday. He faced the Dodgers on April 22, allowing five runs over five innings.
Stat that matters: Rockies shortstop Trevor Story is two homers shy of tying Dave Kingman (1972) and Albert Pujols (2001) for the NL rookie record with 21 homers before the All-Star break.
MLB at Fort Bragg: MIA@ATL, 8:05 p.m.
In the first professional sporting event to be held at an active U.S. military base, the Marlins and Braves will meet tonight at Fort Bragg in North Carolina. The division rivals will play in front of more than 12,000 troops at a newly constructed ballpark on the base. Lefty Adam Conley starts for the Marlins, his third time facing Atlanta this season. The Braves will start Matt Wisler, whose grandfather served in the military during World War II.
Stat that matters: The Braves are 8-3 against the Marlins this year and 20-50 (.286) against the rest of MLB.
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).
Austin Laymance is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.