Arrieta duels Bumgarner on MLB.TV

Postseason implications on the line this weekend

Arrieta duels Bumgarner on MLB.TV

In a showdown of National League contenders, two of the best pitchers in baseball take the mound this afternoon at Wrigley Field as Madison Bumgarner starts for the Giants opposite Jake Arrieta and the Cubs.

Today's full schedule of Major League games includes six series featuring 12 postseason contenders, with the Bumgarner-Arrieta duel up first this afternoon to get the drama started.

And the best place to catch all the action is on MLB.TV.

MLB.TV Premium has returned with the same features as last year, and is only $24.99 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 At Bat Premium app (a $19.99 value). It offers the best picture quality ever -- a new 60 frames per second -- for supported devices.

Here's what to watch for today in the Majors (all times ET):

Top pitchers duel: SF@CHC, 2:20 p.m.
A compelling starting pitching matchup appears destined to unfold between Arrieta (16-5, 2.84 ERA) and Bumgarner (13-8, 2.49) as the first-place Cubs go for a series win against the Giants, who lead the Cardinals by 1 1/2 games for the first National League Wild Card.

Bumgarner will be trying to end the Giants' lengthy slump, as his club has the worst record in MLB since the All-Star break at 15-29. Meanwhile, Arrieta will look to bring the Cubs one step closer in their quest to clinch the NL Central.

"The Giants are a veteran-driven group; we're driven more by youth," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "It'll be an interesting day, there's no denying that. Just Jake maintaining his strike zone throughout, it should be a low-scoring game."

Stat that matters: The Cubs' magic number to clinch the division over the Cardinals is down to 13. Any combination of Cubs wins and Cardinals losses totaling that figure will give the Cubs their first division title since 2008.

Bumgarner's seven strong innings

Lone Star Series: HOU@TEX, 4:05 p.m.
Left-hander Derek Holland starts for the first-place Rangers, who are riding a six-game win streak and own the best record in the American League at 81-54. Holland has gone six innings in each of his two starts since returning from the 60-day disabled list.

The Rangers are 12-1 against the Astros this season and lead Houston by 9 1/2 games in the division.

Joe Musgrove gets the ball for the Astros, who are two games out of the second AL Wild Card. Musgrove tossed 5 1/3 shutout innings against the A's in his last start.

Stat that matters: Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor is 8-for-12 (.667) with four home runs and nine RBIs over his last three games.

Holland talks 2-1 win

Yankees chasing O's in Wild Card: NYY@BAL, 7:05 p.m.                                                                                     The Orioles are tied with the Tigers for the second AL Wild Card and lead the Astros by two games. The Yankees are 3 1/2 games out after being shut out in Friday's series opener.

O's starter Kevin Gausman will try to replicate last week's outing against the Yankees, when he tossed seven scoreless innings to beat them last Sunday for his third straight win. Gausman struck out nine without a walk in that start at Yankee Stadium.

The Yankees will counter CC Sabathia, who started opposite Gausman in his last outing. The left-hander was charged with three runs on six hits over 6 2/3 innings against the Orioles in that game, striking out eight.

The O's are going for a ninth consecutive series win over the Yankees at Camden Yards, dating back to the start of 2014. The Orioles are 19-6 in their last 25 home games against the Yanks.

Stat that matters: Yankees rookie catcher Gary Sanchez, the reigning AL Player of the Week two weeks running, has reached base in 17 consecutive games.

Gausman tosses seven scoreless

Fernandez faces Tribe: MIA@CLE, 7:10 p.m.
Ace Jose Fernandez takes the mound for the Marlins, who are three games behind the Cardinals for the second NL Wild Card. Fernandez has not allowed a run over his last 13 innings spanning two starts, while recording 15 strikeouts in that time. Still, Fernandez has recorded just one win since July 23 and he hasn't won on the road since May 26 against the Rays.

The first-place Indians will counter with Trevor Bauer, who tossed six scoreless innings against the Twins in his last start. Bauer has worked at least six innings in each of his last five starts, compiling a 2.45 ERA with 28 strikeouts against nine walks in 33 innings.

The Indians have won four in a row and are three games behind the Rangers for the best record in the AL.

Stat that matters: Fernandez leads all big league starters in strikeout rate, having fanned 35 percent of the batters he's faced this season.

Fernandez stifles Mets over six

Roark goes for Nats: WSH@NYM, 7:10 p.m.
Every game from here on takes on added importance for these NL East rivals. The Nationals are attempting to clinch their third division title in five years. The Mets are in the mix for the second NL Wild card spot.

Tanner Roark starts for the Nationals, who are 10-4 against the Mets this season and own a 10 1/2-game lead over New York in the division. He's looking to match teammates Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg with 15 wins this season. Roark has gone at least seven innings in 16 starts this year.

Robert Gsellman gets the ball for the Mets, who are two games behind the Cardinals for the second NL Wild Card. It's the second career start for Gsellman, who allowed four runs in six innings against the Phillies in his first start on Aug. 28.

Stat that matters: Nationals second baseman Daniel Murphy is hitting .418 with seven homers and 21 RBIs in 14 games against his former team this year.

Roark tosses seven scoreless

Tigers look to stay hot: DET@KC, 7:15 p.m.
The Tigers go for their fifth straight win behind starter Michael Fulmer, who will pitch on six days' rest. Fulmer is coming off back-to-back losses for the first time in his career.

The Tigers have won nine of their last 11 games and are tied with the Orioles for the second AL Wild Card, two games in front of the Astros.

The Royals turn to Yordano Ventura as they seek to end a three-losing skid that has seen them slip four games out of the second AL Wild Card. Kansas City has won each of Ventura's last six outings.

Stat that matters: Ventura has allowed three runs or fewer in each of his last 10 starts, dating back to July 3.

Ventura's scoreless start

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 This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.