Gray goes for A's; Tillman, Moore duel in AL East matchup
By Chad Thornburg
The Pirates and Rangers will each welcome back starting pitchers who have been out of action for more than a month today when Pittsburgh's Gerrit Cole and Texas' Yu Darvish come off the disabled list.
Darvish will start the Rangers' Interleague matchup vs. the Cubs at Wrigley Field, while Cole takes the mound for the Bucs against the Nationals in Washington. Both games are available for streaming live on MLB.TV.
MLB.TV Premium has returned with the same features as last year, and is only $79.99 for the rest of the season. 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 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 throughout the day (all times in ET):
Darvish returns for Rangers: TEX@CHC, 2:20 p.m.
Darvish returns to action for his first start since June 8. Before suffering some discomfort in his right shoulder, Darvish's comeback from Tommy John surgery was off to a strong start. The right-hander was 2-0 with a 2.87 ERA in three starts for Texas. Today's start marks his first career appearance against the Cubs.
"That's a big deal for us," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said of Darvish's return. "We need him healthy and up to speed. To get Yu back will energize everybody."
The Cubs will counter with righty Jason Hammel, who's looking to snap a four-game losing streak. Hammel has a 5.94 ERA over his last six starts, all Chicago losses.
Stat that matters: Chicago's Anthony Rizzo is slugging .657 against right-handed pitchers, which ranks first among National League hitters. His .338 batting average vs. righties is the fifth highest in the NL.
Cole rejoins Pittsburgh rotation: PIT@WSH, 7:05 p.m.
The Pirates will have their ace Cole back on the mound for this matchup with the first-place Nationals, his first start since suffering a strained right triceps on June 10. The right-hander made two Minor League rehab starts, striking out 12 batters over eight scoreless frames.
"I'm excited to be able to compete again," Cole said.
Tanner Roark will toe the rubber for Washington. Roark has pitched at least seven innings in seven of his last nine starts. He went 8-5 with a 3.01 ERA in the first half.
Stat that matters: Bryce Harper's walk rate of 21.3 percent (57 walks in 267 plate appearances) is second to none this season. He leads all full-time players in the category.
Gray takes the hill: TOR@OAK, 4:05 p.m. Sonny Gray will try to put a disappointing first half behind him when his A's host the Blue Jays today. The Oakland ace owns a 5.16 ERA and already has more losses (eight) than he had all of last year (seven). But Gray appears poised to turn the corner, having posted quality starts in four of his last six outings. He limited the Twins to one run over six innings his last time out.
"It was a tough first half for him," A's manager Bob Melvin said after that outing, "but if he takes the attitude he had today in the second half, and I told him this, he's going to have a heck of a second half."
R.A. Dickey gets the start for Toronto. He's 1-3 with a 2.78 ERA in eight career appearances vs. the A's.
Stat that matters: Dickey has been tough with runners in scoring position this year, limiting opposing hitters to a .190 (16-for-84) average, which ranks fifth in the American League.
Tillman, Moore star in AL East clash: BAL@TB, 6:10 p.m. Chris Tillman is in the midst of what could be the best season of his career, entering the second half with a 12-2 record -- tied for the second-most wins in the AL -- and a 3.41 ERA. He enters today's outing vs. the Orioles after back-to-back seven-inning, one-run starts. Tillman will oppose the Rays' Matt Moore, who's been among Tampa Bay's most consistent starters of late. He's pitched at least six innings in each of his last seven starts, lowering his ERA from 5.56 to 4.46 in that span.
Stat that matters: Moore has been far better when pitching from the comforts of home. He's 5-2 with a 3.57 ERA in 11 starts at Tropicana Field compared with an 0-4 record and a 5.93 ERA through seven starts on the road.
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).