Game #25 the Nationals play the Marlins in West Palm Beach

Jeremy Hellickson threw his first bullpen session on Saturday; Photo by Lee Heiman for Talknats

The Nationals will send Stephen Strasburg to the mound to face the Marlins’ rightie Odrisamer Despaigne. Yesterday the Nationals got smoked by these Marlins as they put up a 6-spot on Max Scherzer and tacked on 3 more against Shawn Kelley who gave up 2 home runs in one inning.

As we wrote over the weekend, we projected the pitching schedule for the first ten days of the season. It appears per Nationals manager Dave Martinez that his pitchers will stay on a five-game schedule as we proposed, and not necessarily a five-day schedule which means on the 5th game of the season the Nationals will not take advantage of a day-off to pitch Scherzer again and skip the 5th starter. This is a divergence from Dusty Baker‘s seeding of Scherzer who many times did not get extra rest days.

Scherzer threw 90 pitches yesterday and will throw again on Saturday and then five days later on Opening Day in Cincinnati the following Thursday, March 29th. From there, Scherzer will get an extra day of rest and pitch on the 7th day of the season.

“[Scherzer] is a competitor, and comes to compete every day,” Dave Martinez said. “He’s that guy. What I’ve learned so far — he’s a leader. He wants to win, every day. Every five days he wants the ball. As you guys know, he doesn’t like giving the manager the ball in any games. But I love him. He comes out and he’s fired up every time he goes out to pitch.”

We will see how all of this plays out in the regular season as Scherzer wants to push himself to 100 pitches in his final Spring Training tune-up and always wants the baseball every 5th day.

“We’ll see how it plays out,” Martinez said as plans always can change. “But a big component of this is to make sure we rest [our pitchers]. We want them fresh in August and September.”

So what is the story today with A.J. Cole and Jeremy Hellickson. From all indications as we speculated over the weekend, Hellickson will pitch on Friday in his spring training debut and when camp breaks he will stay on for extended spring training. According to FanRagSports’ Jon Heyman, the right-handed Hellickson cannot opt-out of his deal before May 1st which gives you a good idea of how long the Nationals have to decide on what they will do with the newly signed free agent.

For Cole, he will either stay the 5th starter or move into the bullpen as the “long-man”. The twist could be that Cole immediately moves into the bullpen and Erick Fedde starts the season as the 5th starter until Hellickson is ready. Always expect the unexpected from Mike Rizzo.

“[Cole] is going to make this team,” Mike Rizzo said. “He’s out of options. He’s got a great arm. He’s a good prospect. He’s going to make the team.”

That comment from Mike Rizzo does not give much insight into Cole’s future except to say he will make the team.

Miami Marlins vs. Washington Nationals
Stadium:  FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, West Palm Beach, Florida
1st Pitch: 1:05 pm EDT
Nats Radio: 

Line-ups subject to change without notice:

  1. Brian Goodwin LF
  2. Michael Taylor CF
  3. Bryce Harper RF
  4. Howie Kendrick 2B
  5. Matt Wieters C
  6. Matt Reynolds 1B
  7. Adrian Sanchez 3B
  8. Stephen Strasburg RHP
  9. Wilmer Difo SS
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