Well here it is: the regular season is finally here after what seemed like months of Spring Training. The games and results finally matter. No rules about pitch counts, no relievers in the fourth inning of a close game like the World Baseball Classic which may or may not have counted in many peoples eyes. However, this is real baseball and we will have that until at least the beginning of October.
Speaking of pitch counts, Stephen Strasburg makes his first appearance in a game that counts since September 12 and is looking to build off of a Spring in which he seemed to get stronger and he had his first real off-season since being drafted by the Nationals. No rehabbing, no fall baseball. There is probably no pitcher more important to the success of the Nationals than Strasburg. If he is an ace, it puts less pressure on Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmermann who are very good pitchers in their own rights. Strasburg is a popular choice for National League Cy Young and the first test comes today against a Miami team that is not the best offensively.
It’s also the return of Wilson Ramos which is a very good thing. If he can return to his 2012 progression with the bat and his very good Spring, he gives the bottom of the order another weapon that Kurt Suzuki didn’t do as well. The debut of Denard Span is also something very interesting as he gives the Nationals a true leadoff man they lacked last year.
For the Marlins, of course Giancarlo Stanton is their true superstar. It’s also a look at a lineup that includes an eclectic mix of young players and veterans who are believed to be past their prime. None of the excitement of last season, but a season with tempered expectations may be what the rebuilding process needs but it’s the implications of another salary dump a year after their new stadium opened with a lot of taxpayer money that makes the decision even more dubious.
Ricky Nolasco is definitely the Marlins best starting pitcher, and gets the Opening Day start for Miami.
The important thing to remember is that it’s only one game. Opening Day is exciting, but it’s the first step in a marathon.