Ben Sheets has been one of the best stories in baseball since the All-Star Break as the former Brewers ace has rejuvenated his career after missing all of 2011 following Tommy John surgery. Sheets’ first start of 2012 came July 15 against the Mets and he blanked them over six innings. He faces them again in the Sunday night national TV game.
LA Dodgers at Miami – Dodgers LHP Chris Capuano (10-8, 3.29) vs. Marlins LHP Wade LeBlanc (1-1, 1.50): The win-loss totals don’t look great for Capuano in the last month, but a number of the defeats haven’t been his fault. After being roughed up by St. Louis and Arizona, the lefty threw seven two-run innings in his last start against Colorado. … Pitch counts are standing in LeBlanc’s way of wins. In each of his first two starts, both Marlins victories, he was lifted in the fifth inning due to a pitch limit and didn’t qualify for the win. His count will rise to 90 vs. the Dodgers.
San Diego at Pittsburgh – Padres LHP Eric Stults (2-2, 2.72) vs. Pirates LHP Erik Bedard (6-12, 4.53): Stults was strong in his last outing, a victory over the Cubs in which he went 5 1/3 shutout innings and struck out five on three days’ rest. Stults had been the long man in the Padres’ bullpen prior to that start, his first since June 3. … Bedard has seen mixed results in the second half. In his most recent outing, he was stellar, holding Arizona to two hits over seven innings. He has a 2.38 ERA at PNC Park, where opponents are hitting .192 off him.
St. Louis at Philadelphia – Cardinals RHP Lance Lynn (13-5, 3.52) vs. Phillies RHP Vance Worley (6-7, 3.83): Lynn’s last nine starts have had a streak of inconsistency, as he’s either been dominant or subpar. There has been little middle ground. Getting through the first inning is key for Lynn, too. Of the 53 runs he’s allowed, 18 have scored in the first. … Worley’s stomach started bothering him just before his last start, in which he struggled and lasted only 3 2/3 innings in a loss to the Braves. He will look to bounce back against St. Louis and even his record on the season.
Milwaukee at Houston – Brewers RHP Yovani Gallardo (10-8, 3.79) vs. Astros RHP Jordan Lyles (2-8, 5.69): After giving up seven runs to the Nationals, Gallardo has pitched seven innings and allowed one run in each of his last two starts. Most recently, Gallardo shut down the Reds on Monday for his second straight win. … Lyles went seven innings his last time out, allowing two runs. He had given up four or more runs in his four previous starts. Concerned with his propensity to allow big innings, he’s been working on his delivery from the stretch.
Cincinnati at Chicago Cubs – Reds RHP Johnny Cueto (14-6, 2.58) vs. Cubs LHP Brooks Raley (0-1, 15.75): Cueto had his five-game winning streak snapped in his last start, when Milwaukee’s Mike Fiers took a perfect game into the seventh. Cueto was solid against the Brewers, allowing six hits and three runs in seven innings while fanning nine. … In his debut, Raley gave up seven runs over four innings. He’d given up just seven runs over 29 2/3 innings in five starts in July, which earned him honors as the Cubs’ Minor League pitcher of the month. The Cubs can only hope the jitters are gone.
Colorado at San Francisco – Rockies RHP Alex White (2-6, 5.75) vs. Giants LHP Barry Zito (9-8, 4.19): White pitched four shutout innings against the Dodgers on Tuesday, allowing a hit, five walks, and striking out a pair in the win. White didn’t record a decision due to the strict pitch count manager Jim Tracy has been implementing for his four-man rotation. … In his last outing, Zito finished an out shy of going seven innings for the third time in his last five starts and didn’t walk a batter for the second time this year. He allowed two runs for his third quality start in his last five outings.
Washington at Arizona – Nationals LHP Ross Detwiler (6-4, 2.99) vs. Diamondbacks LHP Patrick Corbin (3-4, 3.53): Detwiler put together another dominant seven-inning start Tuesday in Houston, inducing 12 ground-ball outs with his power sinker and four-seam fastball. The lefty has a 2.55 ERA since June 24, and the Nats have gone 6-2 in those eight starts. … Corbin has made two starts since being called up from Triple-A for his third stint with the D-backs this season and has allowed just two runs over six innings in those outings. He has never faced the Nationals.
Arizona at NY Mets – Braves RHP Ben Sheets (4-1, 1.41) vs. Mets LHP Jon Niese (8-6, 3.82): Sheets has allowed one or no runs in four of five starts since ending his two-year retirement. He proved efficient and effective while not recording a strikeout in 7 1/3 strong innings against Philadelphia on Monday. … One big inning did in Niese last Tuesday at Citi Field. Five of the eight hits and all four of the runs that the left-hander allowed came in the fourth inning, dropping him to his sixth loss. Niese beat the Braves in their only meeting this season.