Mariners left-hander hasn't pitched since May 2 due to forearm strain
By Oliver Macklin
Several intriguing pitching matchups dominate today's full slate of games, streaming live on MLB.TV.
Mariners left-hander James Paxton, who was one of baseball's best starters before landing on the disabled list with a Grade 1 forearm strain, returns to welcome promising rookie Antonio Senzatela and the red-hot Rockies to Safeco Field.
Some 800 miles south of Seattle, Nationals ace Max Scherzer takes on the Giants in the Bay Area, where tensions are high following the benches-clearing fracas that occurred in Monday's game. It will be interesting to see what will happen should Bryce Harper get another chance to bat against Hunter Strickland. Both players were suspended, but are appealing and will be allowed to play until those appeals are heard.
The Rays' Chris Archer and Mets' Jacob deGrom also toe the rubber in what has the makings of an eventful day across baseball.
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Here's what to watch for throughout the day (all times in ET):
Paxton returns from injury: COL@SEA, 10:10 p.m.
Easily the Mariners' best pitcher before landing on the disabled list after his start on May 2, Paxton was blossoming right before our very eyes. The 28-year-old lefty held opponents scoreless through his first three starts of the season.
He had a slight blip in an otherwise spectacular first month of the year when he allowed five runs in 4 1/3 innings at Oakland on April 20, but the southpaw rebounded to win his third game of the year in his next outing with seven scoreless frames versus the Tigers.
Paxton will look to pick up right where he left off when he takes the mound opposite a potent Rockies lineup that is near the top of the National League in several offensive categories. Colorado counters with Senzatela, who has impressed in his first 10 career starts, going 7-1 with a 3.19 ERA.
Mad Max duels Giants in the Bay: WSH@SF, 10:15 p.m.
Scherzer will attempt to end the discord coming from both dugouts when he faces San Francisco for the third time since joining Washington prior to the 2015 season.
In 2015, Scherzer got knocked around for six runs in three innings in an 8-5 defeat. But the right-hander bounced back versus the Giants last season, allowing one run over seven frames in a 4-1 Nationals' victory at AT&T Park. In Scherzer's last outing, against the Padres, he struck out 13 over 8 2/3 dominant innings.
Coming off what was nearly his first complete game of the season, it's fair to anticipate a similar performance tonight from Scherzer. He'll oppose veteran right-hander Matt Cain, who fired seven innings of one-run ball in a 2-0 loss to the Braves his last time out.
Archer rolls into Arlington: TB@TEX, 8:05 p.m.
The Rays' No. 1 starter has a 2-2 record in five May starts, but don't let those numbers deceive you. Perhaps no pitcher in baseball has been better this month than Archer, who has racked up a whopping 51 strikeouts in 33 innings.
The 28-year-old recorded double-digit punchouts in four of his five May starts and will attempt to continue his whiffing ways when he opposes Minor League journeyman Austin Bibens-Dirkx, who made his big league debut with the Rangers on May 17. The 32-year-old Bibens-Dirkx makes his first career start in the Majors.
deGrominator takes on Brew Crew: MIL@NYM, 7:10 p.m.
deGrom makes his 11th start of the season on the heels of his best outing of the year in which he gave up just one run on six hits and a walk while striking out 10 in 8 1/3 frames to earn his fourth win.
With back-to-back stellar performances, the 28-year-old righty has watched his ERA shrink from 4.07 to 3.23 in the span of a week. deGrom tries to keep the good times going when he gets the ball against the surprising Brewers and right-hander Junior Guerra, who has a 3.12 ERA. Guerra returned from a seven-week absence due to a calf strain on Thursday, allowing one run over 5 2/3 innings against the D-backs.
Oliver Macklin is a reporter for MLB.com based in Washington, D.C. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.