LEADING OFF: Strasburg vs Syndergaard, Cubs host Bucs
A look at what's happening all around the majors today:
Stephen Strasburg (11-0, 2.71) leads the Nationals against Noah Syndergaard (9-3, 2.41) and the Mets in a battle of All-Stars and NL Cy Young Award contenders. Strasburg left after 6 2/3 hitless innings against Cincinnati because of his pitch count last time out, a precaution in Strasburg's first start since an upper back strain put him on the DL. Syndergaard dominated the Cubs in his last outing, allowing a run over seven innings in a 14-3 victory. It's the first time Syndergaard will face Strasburg.
The Mets are awaiting a big decision on Matt Harvey - will he require season-ending surgery to address symptoms consistent with thoracic outlet syndrome? The diagnosis has jeopardized the careers of other major league pitchers, and Harvey has complained about having common symptoms this week, including numbness in the fingers and shoulder discomfort. Mets general manager Sandy Alderson expects a decision on surgery to be made in the next few days before the All-Star break.
CARPENTER TO DL
The Cardinals continue their pursuit of the Cubs when they start a three-game series in Milwaukee, but they'll do it without star Matt Carpenter. The infielder went on the disabled list Thursday with a strained right oblique, and St. Louis is not setting a timetable for his return. Carpenter is hitting .298 with 14 home runs and is ranked 12th in the majors with 3.4 wins above replacement entering Thursday, per Fangraphs. Kolten Wong is expected to be Carpenter's primary replacement at second base.
CONTROLLING THE CENTRAL
The Cubs get one more chance to pad their lead in the NL Central before the All-Star break when they begin a three-game series against the Pirates. Ace Jake Arrieta (12-3, 2.33) looks to rebound in the opener after allowing nine runs over his last 10 1/3 innings spanning two starts. Chicago entered its game Thursday night with an eight-game lead over St. Louis in the Central standings, with Pittsburgh 8 1/2 games back in third.
HAMELS GETS TWINS AGAIN
Cole Hamels (9-2, 2.93) tries for a bounce-back performance when the Rangers host the Twins. Minnesota tagged the left-hander for five runs in four innings last Sunday, ending a four-start winning streak for Hamels. Kyle Gibson (2-5, 4.82) pitches for the Twins.