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Sports BIT: Cubs-Nats, Cards-Diamondbacks & 2017 Browns

Chicago Cubs At Washington Nationals

It’s a matchup of Cy Young winners in Game 2 of this series between 2016 division winners. Chicago’s Jake Arrieta won the 2015 Cy Young but hasn’t resembled that guy much this season with a 7-5 record and middling 4.36 ERA. He does come off seven strong innings in a win at Miami. His last start vs. the Nats was a no-decision last May. Washington’s Max Scherzer won the 2013 Cy Young Award in the American League with Detroit and then in the NL last year with the Nationals. Scherzer (8-5, 2.09) is in the running for another Cy this year as he’s leading the NL in strikeouts (145), ERA and WHIP (0.81). Batters are hitting just .167 against him, lowest in the majors. He’s allowed a .232 OBP, also lowest in the majors. Oh, and Scherzer is working on six straight starts of at least 10 strikeouts, two shy of tying the single-season MLB record.

St. Louis Cardinals At Arizona Diamondbacks

Arizona has won 15 of 18 as it tries to stay close to the NL West-leading Dodgers. The Cardinals have won back-to-back games – they had to play a Monday makeup vs. Cincinnati before flying to Phoenix. The Snakes and Cardinals haven’t met yet this season. It’s Carlos Martinez (6-6, 2.87) on the mound for the Cards. Martinez has made four career starts and three relief appearances against the D-backs, with a 2.86 ERA in 28 1/3 innings. He hasn't faced Arizona since May 2016 in which he allowed four earned runs in five innings. The Diamondbacks’ Taijuan Walker (6-3, 3.43) has allowed three earned runs or fewer in seven straight starts. Walker was scratched from his regularly scheduled Sunday start to give him some extra rest.

Deep Dive On 2017 Cleveland Browns

There’s nowhere to go but up for the sad-sack Cleveland Browns, who finished 2016 with the worst record in franchise history at 1-15. They only covered the spread in three games. A minus-12 turnover margin certainly didn’t help. The running game was solid, but the quarterback play was not. Now the Browns have to decide between Brock Osweiler, Cody Kessler or second-round rookie DeShone Kizer to start this year. If there’s one place the Browns are in good shape, it’s the offensive line. They have a future Hall of Famer at left tackle in Joe Thomas and added Kevin Zeitler and JC Tretter in free agency. Cleveland “earned” the No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 draft and took Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett. Cleveland had only 26 sacks of the QB last year, 30th in the NFL. Garrett should help there. He will be a building block alongside Jamie Collins, Danny Shelton and Joe Haden in Cleveland's new 4-3 defense under coordinator Gregg Williams. The Browns have a win total of 4.5 for the 2017 season.