Big Papi set to play defense; Arrieta starts for Cubs
By Austin Laymance
Stephen Strasburg seeks his 16th win tonight when he takes the mound for the Nationals against the Giants in a possible postseason preview featuring two first-place clubs.
Also today, Jake Arrieta gets the ball for the Cubs, Ivan Nova debuts for the Pirates and David Ortiz makes his first start of the year at first base for the Red Sox.
And the best place to watch all the action is on MLB.TV.
MLB.TV Premium has returned with the same features as last year, and is only $49.99 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 $39.99 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, Cain duel: SF@WSH, 7:05 p.m.
A favorite to win the National League Cy Young, Strasburg eyes his 16th win of the year in the second of a three-game set against the Giants. Strasburg (15-1) is tied with Toronto's J.A. Happ for the most wins in MLB. Strasburg has a 1.89 ERA since June 15 and he tossed six innings of one-run ball in his last start Monday. The Nats are 18-2 this year when Strasburg takes the mound.
Meanwhile, the Giants hand the ball to Matt Cain, who has a 6.61 ERA since returning from the diabled list on June 13. However, Cain faced the Nats in his last start and had one his best performances of the year with five hitless innings.
Stat that matters: Nationals outfielder Jayson Werth has reached base in 36 straight games, the longest active streak in MLB and tied with Miami's Marcell Ozuna for the longest streak this year.
Big Papi gets a rare start at first: BOS@LAD, 4:05 p.m.
The Red Sox plan to start Ortiz at first base, which would be the first defensive appearance for the slugger this year. Boston does not have the designated hitter for this three-game Interleague series at Dodger Stadium. Ortiz last played first base Aug. 30 against the Mets, one of his nine starts at first base last season.
Ortiz is having an impressive final season, batting .311/.398/.623 with 25 home runs, 36 doubles and 87 RBIs.
"He was real clear. He wants to play," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "Any time we can get that bat in the lineup, especially against a right-handed pitcher, we are going to put him there."
Rookie Ross Stripling will be called up from Triple-A to start for the Dodgers in place of Bud Norris, who is expected to be placed on the disabled list before the game. Lefty Eduardo Rodriguez starts for the Red Sox.
Stat that matters: Ortiz is hitless in three career at-bats at Dodger Stadium.
Arrieta faces A's: CHC@OAK, 4:05 p.m.
Arrieta starts for the first-place Cubs in the second game of a three-game Interleague series in Oakland. Arrieta began the year in dominant fashion, but the Cubs have lost the last five games he's started. Still, he's had success on the road with an 8-2 record and 3.66 ERA in 11 outings. Arrieta has not pitched against the A's since 2012, when he was with the Orioles.
The A's will counter with Sonny Gray, who is 2-5 with a 5.57 ERA in 11 starts since returning from the disabled list on June 5. Gray's overall 5.84 ERA this year is the highest in MLB among qualified pitchers. He has never faced the Cubs.
Stat that matters: Gray has 15 wild pitches this year, which is at least five more than any other pitcher.
Nova debuts for Bucs: CIN@PIT, 7:05 p.m.
Nova takes the mound for his Pirates debut after joining the club in a Trade Deadline deal with the Yankees. Nova was 6-5 with a 4.86 ERA in 15 starts for the Yankees, while also making six relief appearanaces. The Pirates are hoping a change of scenery and coaching staffs can benefit the right-hander down the stretch.
"I don't think I have any mechanical problems," Nova said. "My job is to go out there and execute my pitches."
Homer Bailey makes his second start of the season for the Reds as he continues his return from last year's Tommy John surgery. Bailey went 5 2/3 innings and allowed two runs on four hits in a win over the Padres on Sunday in his season debut.
Stat that matters: Bailey has a 1.92 career ERA at PNC Park, his lowest for any ballpark in which he has made at least five starts.
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.