Spring Training games are finally here! While some of the teams got their first exhibition games in today, the Washington Nationals will have to wait till Thursday to begin their Spring slate. When they do, their newest acquisition will be the first one to take the mound at Space Coast Stadium. Manager Matt Williams announced that the first Washington starter to get the ball will be Max Scherzer when the team faces the New York Mets:
Scherzer is going to throw the first two innings of the game with Tanner Roark following the pitcher who received a seven year, $210 million contract by the Nats this winter. Both pitchers are expected to either throw two innings or 45 pitches.
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It is interesting to hear that Scherzer will get the start for the Spring opener since there are some people who believe that the former Tigers pitcher will get the nod for Opening Day against the Mets a month from Friday. However, manager Matt Williams has said to not take much stock into this decision:
“He’s ready,” the manager said of Scherzer. “They’re all ready. But there’s nothing to read into it, other than he’s going to get the ball on Thursday. And five days later he’ll get it again.” (h/t Nats Insider)
The Mets will begin their Spring Training slate Wednesday, but their manager, Terry Collins, has already said that some of their regulars (David Wright, Daniel Murphy, Curtis Granderson, and Michael Cuddyer) will not be in the lineup until their Spring Training home opener on Friday against the Tigers. Plus, first baseman Lucas Duda is trying to recover from an intercostal strain.
With that being said, this game does give Scherzer an opportunity to test out the newest pitch in his repertoire, a cutter, which was talked about in a piece about Scherzer in the New York Times last week. Plus, Williams gets a chance to see how Tanner Roark prepares for a relief role, even though he has told Roark to come into camp preparing as a starting pitcher.
Could this be a preview of Opening Day in terms of the pitching matchups? Probably not! While Matt Harvey won’t likely be the Met that faces Washington in the regular season opener, I don’t think it will be Thursday’s starter, Bartolo Colon, either. In other news, there is a report by Kevin Kernan of the New York Post that Harvey could still face the Nationals in the final game of the opening series on April 9.