LEADING OFF: Strasburg vs Kershaw in L.A., Giants streaking
A look at what's happening all around the majors today:
Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg (10-0, 2.90) and Dodgers lefty Clayton Kershaw (10-1, 1.58) square off in a matchup of two NL Cy Young Award candidates. The talented Strasburg is having perhaps the best year of his career, landing among the majors leaders in wins and strikeouts (118). Of course, he trails Kershaw in both categories. Los Angeles' ace has 133 strikeouts and just seven walks this season, and Kershaw has reached double digits in strikeouts in nine of his past 11 starts.
GIANT WINNING STREAK
The Giants try to win their ninth straight game, and their odds look good with ace Madison Bumgarner (8-2, 1.91) facing the struggling Pirates. Pittsburgh just got swept by the NL Central-leading Cubs over the weekend, and now host NL West-leading San Francisco for four games. The Pirates counter with lefty Jeff Locke (5-5, 5.92), who has allowed 18 earned runs over his past two starts (8 2/3 innings).
ANOTHER YOUNG CUB STUD
Prized Cubs prospect Willson Contreras is scheduled to make his first start catching right-hander John Lackey against St Louis after quite a debut at the plate. Contreras hit a pinch-hit, two-run home run in his first major league at-bat against Pittsburgh on Sunday night. The 24-year-old Contreras was hitting .350 with nine homers at Triple-A Iowa when he was called up Friday. He's played one inning of defense, but has yet to start. Manager Joe Maddon said the 37-year-old Lackey is ''almost the perfect first guy'' for Contreras.
Shelby Miller (1-6, 7.09) is looking for just his third victory in the last calendar year when the Diamondbacks try to complete a four-game sweep of the Phillies. Miller won just once after May 17 with the Braves last season, then took six starts to get his first victory with Arizona this year. He's lost three straight since beating Atlanta on May 7.
Paul Clemens starts against the Rockies after coming up from Triple-A to replace struggling left-hander Justin Nicolino, who was optioned to the minors. Clemens will pitch in the majors for the first time since 2014 and doesn't expect to be nervous. ''Once that first at-bat is over I should settle in,'' he said.