What’s on Tap: Previewing Thursday’s action

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Thursday, as usual, gives us a shortened slate of games. You’ll have to wait until the late night to watch the marquee matchup: the Mets’ Jacob deGrom against the Giants’ Madison Bumgarner in a 10:15 PM EDT start at AT&T Park in San Francisco.

If one sets a minimum of 17 starts, Bumgarner is the major league leader in ERA at 2.11. (Clayton Kershaw is 1.79 over 16 starts.) deGrom is fourth in baseball at 2.30, so Thursday evening’s meeting features two NL Cy Young Award hopefuls. Bumgarner, in fact, leads the majors in innings pitched at 170 2/3 and in complete games with four. Along with that, he has a 189/43 K/BB ratio and an 11-7 record. deGrom has made four fewer starts and doesn’t lead in any categories.

The Giants, now in second place in the NL West behind the Dodgers by 1.5 games, have watched the Dodgers make up eight games since  July 10. This month, the Dodgers have had the luxury of playing the slumping Rockies, the woebegone Pirates, as well as the Phillies for six games. Meanwhile, the Giants have had to play the Nationals, Marlins, and Orioles along with the Phillies and Pirates. And as the Giants open up a four-game set against the Mets, the Dodgers head to Cincinnati for a four-game series with the last-place Reds.

The Dodgers and Giants meet for three games next week starting Tuesday and will have six more meetings towards the end of the regular season. The NL West and the AL East have the only truly interesting division races at this point in the season, so many eyes will be on the two teams the rest of the way. The Giants will try to use Bumgarner’s start on Thursday night to propel them the rest of the way.

The rest of Thursday’s action…

Houston Astros (Joe Musgrove) @ Baltimore Orioles (Kevin Gausman), 7:05 PM EDT

Los Angeles Dodgers (Ross Stripling) @ Philadelphia Phillies (Jerad Eickhoff), 7:05 PM EDT

Chicago White Sox (Carlos Rodon) @ Cleveland Indians (Danny Salazar), 7:10 PM EDT

Miami Marlins (Jose Fernandez) @ Cincinnati Reds (Dan Straily), 7:10 PM EDT

Washington Nationals (Reynaldo Lopez) @ Atlanta Braves (Rob Whalen), 7:10 PM EDT

Minnesota Twins (Tyler Duffey) @ Kansas City Royals (Dillon Gee), 8:15 PM EDT

Seattle Mariners (Hisashi Iwakuma) @ Los Angeles Angels (Matt Shoemaker), 10:05 PM EDT

Arizona Diamondbacks (Archie Bradley) @ San Diego Padres (Paul Clemens), 10:10 PM EDT