This week's round of MLB fixtures feature some of the best starting pitchers in the business. Resident baseball guru Ben Steele picks out his best bets...
"Look for Lester to get out to an early lead against the inexperienced Plutko and that should be enough for Chicago to get revenge for Tuesday night's heavy defeat."
Giants @ Astros
Wednesday, 19:10 BST
Live on BT Sport
When the schedule was released the San Francisco Giants would probably have been hoping that their interleague trip to Houston would see them face the bottom end of the vaunted Astros' rotation. A two-game set against the Astros' top guys is the last thing anybody wants, and after an 11-2 loss to Gerrit Cole last night, they get to face Justin Verlander and his American League leading ERA of 1.05.
Verlander has allowed just eight earned runs all season and is coming off a complete game shutout against the Los Angeles Angels last week. Despite not scoring heavily last night the Giants were able to get 11 men on base so Verlander will have to be at his best against a side that have consistently troubled pitchers this season. Houston should have enough firepower to win the game but I expect the game to be high scoring.
Marlins @ Mets
Thursday, 00:10 BST
The final game of a three-game series in New York will see two pitchers who are unbeaten this season face off in what should be a low scoring affair. The Mets swept the Marlins earlier in the season in a trio of close games and the two games so far in this series have followed a similar pattern.
With Jacob deGrom (1.75 ERA) and Dan Straily (3.6 ERA) taking the mound the game tonight should continue the low scoring trend particularly with a couple of key injuries in both batting lineups. Mets starter, deGrom, has allowed one run in his last 26 1/3 innings and had 13 strikeouts in his last outing, matching a career best, while Dan Straily shutout the Atlanta Braves in his last appearance. I would expect deGrom's dominance to mean he just edges the battle of the pitchers and earns the win for the home side.
Indians @ Cubs
Thursday 01:05 BST
Live on BT Sport
Adam Plutko of the Cleveland Indians starts tonight having been called up from Triple-A for a game that is effectively an audition for a regular spot in the rotation.
As auditions go, facing Jon Lester, a four-time All-Star with a 4-1 record this season, probably isn't what Plutko would have asked for, but the 10-1 hammering the Indians gave Chicago last night will certainly give him confidence. On Tuesday night, Cubs starter Tyler Chatwood was chased from the mound by the third inning and Cleveland will need to start quickly again if they're going to get the win.
Lester was the opening day starter for the Cubs and there isn't a single batter in Cleveland's lineup who has had consistent success against him over his career. Look for Lester to get out to an early lead against the inexperienced Plutko and that should be enough for Chicago to get revenge for Tuesday night's heavy defeat.