LEADING OFF: Cubs go for Wrigley record, Porcello chases 22
A look at what's happening all around the majors today:
WINNERS AT WRIGLEY
The Cubs can set a team record with their 57th home victory when they host the Cardinals at Wrigley Field. Jason Hammel (15-9, 3.56) is trying to prove himself worthy of a postseason rotation spot for the NL Central champs, though he hasn't helped himself with a 6.87 ERA in three starts this month. Rookie Alex Reyes (3-1, 1.03) gets his fourth start for St. Louis riding a scoreless streak of 11 1/3 innings.
Rick Porcello (21-4, 3.08) can become baseball's second 22-game winner in the past five years when Boston plays at Tampa Bay. Jake Arrieta won 22 games while earning the NL Cy Young Award last season, making him baseball's biggest winner since Justin Verlander won 24 times with Detroit in 2011. Porcello likely only has two starts left, so Verlander's mark is out of reach, but that win total combined with his late-season dominance - he's 7-2 with a 2.38 ERA since Aug. 1 - could give him an edge in the AL Cy Young race.
Clayton Kershaw (11-3, 1.73) tries to stretch out even more before the postseason when the Dodgers face the Rockies. Kershaw was limited to 66 and 64 pitches in his first two starts after returning from the disabled list, then jumped up to 88 pitches in a 2-1 win over the Giants in his last start. Despite missing more than two months, Kershaw (6.1) entered Friday trailing only Jose Fernandez (6.2) in wins above replacement, per Fangraphs.
RIGHT THAT RANGER
The AL West-champion Rangers hope to get Yu Darvish on track in a game against Oakland before the postseason. Darvish (5-5, 3.81) has a 7.47 ERA in his past three starts, including when he allowed seven runs over five innings last time out against the A's. Darvish is stumbling at the end of a season that included his successful return from Tommy John surgery, though Texas is just 8-7 this season with their Japanese ace on the mound.
SEARAGE'S LATEST STAR
Ivan Nova starts vs. Washington looking like yet another success story for Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage. After going 7-6 with a 4.90 ERA with the Yankees this season, Nova is 5-1 with a 2.93 ERA in nine starts with the Pirates following a trade Aug. 1. Nova has just three walks in 55 1/3 innings with Pittsburgh, helping him produce a video game-like 15.00 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Madison Bumgarner (14-9, 2.57) leads San Francisco against the pesky Padres, who had beaten the Giants six straight times before losing 2-1 on Thursday night. Bumgarner is coming off a dominant start against the Dodgers, when he threw seven scoreless innings of one-hit ball in a 2-1 loss. In his six starts previous to that one, Bumgarner had struggled to a 5.30 ERA.