Cueto faces Cubs on MLB.TV

Wild Card races bring drama to both leagues

Cueto faces Cubs on MLB.TV

In a possible postseason preview, the Cubs and Giants meet one last time in the regular season this afternoon with another marquee pitching matchup on tap at Wrigley Field, where Johnny Cueto takes the mound for San Francisco in a rubber game against John Lackey and the Cubs.

Today's full schedule of Major League games features six series finales involving 12 postseason contenders. The Mets and Tigers each have a chance to move into a tie for a Wild Card spot in their respective leagues, so there's sure to be drama throughout the day.

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):

Cueto, Lackey duel: SF@CHC, 2:20 p.m.
The Cubs bring the Majors' best record (87-48) into today's rubber game against the Giants, who lead the Cardinals by 2 1/2 games for the first National League Wild Card.

Lackey returns from the disabled list to make his first regular-season appearance against the Giants since 2009. The veteran right-hander has been better at home this season, going 6-4 with a 2.47 ERA in 13 starts compared to 3-3 with a 4.68 ERA in 11 outings on the road. Lackey, who went on the DL with a right shoulder strain suffered during his Aug. 14 start against the Cardinals, reported no issues after a bullpen session on Thursday.

Cueto will look to work deeper into today's game, as he went 4 2/3 innings against the D-backs in his last outing for his shortest start as a Giant. Cueto is 5-2 with a 2.66 ERA and a .203 opponents' batting average in his last 10 starts against the Cubs.

Stat that matters: The Giants own a 26-17 record in series finales this year.

MLB Plus: Lackey on return

Rangers look to keep rolling against Astros: HOU@TEX, 3:05 p.m.
The first-place Rangers go for a sweep of the Astros behind Yu Darvish,as Texas looks to continue its dominance over its division rival. The Rangers, winners of seven straight overall, are 13-2 against the Astros this season.

Darvish is 4-3 with a 3.08 ERA in 11 career starts against the Astros and has 102 strikeouts in 73 innings against them. Those are the most strikeouts and innings pitched against any team in his career.

Collin McHugh takes the mound for Houston, which sits three games behind Baltimore for the second American League Wild Card. McHugh will look to turn things around after going 2-2 with a 5.13 ERA over his last nine outings. He's allowed six home runs during that span, and opponents are hitting .321 against him.

Stat that matters: Darvish has produced eight straight quality starts, which is the third-longest stretch by an AL starter this season.

Darvish's nine strikeouts

AL Wild Card contenders clash: DET@KC, 2:15 p.m.
Two division foes in the mix for a Wild Card berth meet in an important rubber match at Kauffman Stadium. Detroit is one game behind Baltimore for the second AL Wild Card spot, while Kansas City is four games back.

Royals starter Edinson Volquez enters this game having thrown one quality start in his last seven outings. He's not reached the sixth inning since Aug. 14. Volquez worked seven shutout innings against the Tigers back on April 21, then allowed five runs in 6 1/3 innings against Detroit on June 18.

Tigers starter Daniel Norris has completed six innings once in five starts since returning to the rotation in early August. He held Kansas City to two runs (one earned) over 5 1/3 innings on Aug. 15, doing well to limit the damage on the six hits and four walks he allowed.

Stat that matters: Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera is one homer away from his 10th 30-homer season, a feat 20 players have accomplished in MLB history. The only active players to hit the mark are David Ortiz (10) and Albert Pujols (13).

Volquez's solid outing

Mets closing in on Cardinals: WSH@NYM, 8:08 p.m.
The Mets will look to continue their climb up the NL Wild Card standings when they face the first-place Nationals in a rubber game at Citi Field. The Mets have moved within one game of the Cardinals for the second Wild Card.

The Mets caught a bit of a break in this game, as Nationals manager Dusty Baker decided to move Max Scherzer's scheduled start back to next week in order to get the ace some extra rest. Right-hander Reynaldo Lopez will start for the Nats in his first career appearance against the Mets. It's the sixth career start for Lopez.

Seth Lugo takes the mound for the Mets in his fourth career start. Lugo, who also made nine relief appearances this season, is 2-1 with a 2.55 ERA in three starts since joining the rotation on Aug. 19.

Stat that matters: Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper is hitting .351 (26-for-74) with three homers and 19 RBIs since returning to the lineup on Aug. 14 after missing time with a stiff neck.

Statcast: Lugo's curve

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.