Washington Nationals: Predicting the 2018 Opening Day lineup

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 12: Bryce Harper /
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15-17 W 7-9 L 207-211 IP 2.85-3.38 ERA 257-262 K

Max Scherzer grunted and stalked his way through his first spring bullpen session. By the time we reach Cincinnati, he will wear a path around the mound in West Palm Beach.

No one player was more upset after Game 5 than Scherzer. When the bell rings, he will chomp to answer it.

With Joe Ross expected back by the end of the season, and the Nats a healthy NL East favorite, watch to see if they experiment with a six-man starting rotation. If so, those above projections are rosy. But, it is more important to have gas in the tank for October than throwing extra pitches in meaningless September games.

Although arm endurance is not an issue, nagging injuries hampered Scherzer after the All-Star break. Between line drives off legs and a balky neck, the last few months were uncomfortable. Martinez has his hands full letting Scherzer go all out and keeping something in reserve.

You know Martinez will try hitting his starters eighth. Analysis says it leads to better lineup production and his mentor, Joe Maddon, uses it with the Chicago Cubs. When Murphy is at full strength, expect to see it.

Looking for batting predictions? Not even FanGraphs goes there.