LEADING OFF: Franco debut, Kershaw vs Snell, Hendricks hot

Sports
Sean Newcomb, Wander Franco

FILE – In this March 3, 2021, file photo, Tampa Bay Rays’ Wander Franco hits a home run in the first inning during a spring training baseball game against the Pittsburgh Pirates in Port Charlotte, Fla. Franco is being called up to make his major league debut against Boston on Tuesday, June 22, 2021. He is regarded as the top prospect in the minor leagues. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson, File)

A look at what’s happening around the majors today:

DEBUT DAY

Wander Franco, a 20-year-old infielder considered the best prospect in the minor leagues, is set to make his major league debut for the Tampa Bay Rays against the visiting Boston Red Sox.

Franco hit .315 with seven homers and 35 RBIs in 39 games this season at Triple-A Durham. He was 5 for 17 with a long home run in seven spring training games for Tampa Bay this year.

Tampa Bay has lost six straight, dropping a half-game back of the first-place Red Sox in the AL East.

FAMILIAR FACES

Clayton Kershaw will be facing San Diego for the third time this season when the Los Angeles Dodgers play at the Padres. Kershaw (8-6, 3.36 ERA) is 1-1 with a 2.08 ERA against the Padres this season and 22-8 with a 2.04 mark versus San Diego in 42 career starts.

Blake Snell (2-3, 5.72) goes for the Padres in a marquee matchup of Cy Young Award winners. Snell has two no-decisions against the Dodgers this season. He was pulled from Game 6 of the World Series by Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash with the Rays leading the Dodgers 1-0 in the sixth inning last year. The Dodgers won the game and the Series.

The Padres are 5-3 this season against the Dodgers, including a 6-2 victory Monday night in the opener of a three-game series between the NL West rivals.

STICKY STUFF FOCUS

Yankees ace Gerrit Cole (8-3, 2.31 ERA) makes his first start since Major League Baseball started mandatory checks by umpires on all pitchers for banned grip-enhancing substances. The right-hander will be pitching on five days’ rest when he faces the visiting Kansas City Royals.

SLOW BALL

Right-hander Kyle Hendricks (9-4, 4.13) has won a career-best seven straight starts for the Chicago Cubs going into an outing against the visiting Cleveland Indians, who send Eli Morgan (0-1, 12.79) to the mound. Hendricks is succeeding despite an average four-seam fastball velocity of 87.1 mph, 183rd among 184 qualified pitchers. Only Minnesota’s Tyler Rogers, with his submarine delivery, trails, at 82.3 mph.

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