If you are a baseball fan who hasn’t been hibernating under a rock, you know Bryce Harper is back in Washington D.C. as a visitor tonight. The Nationals have decided to shake-up their early season rotation and pitch Max Scherzer tonight to set the tone for his team against the stacked lineup of the Phillies. This is a postseason type of move by general manager Mike Rizzo and manager Dave Martinez. Generally early in the season you go with the starting rotation 1-2-3-4 and use the off-days to skip your 5th starter, but the Nationals who pitched Max Scherzer on Opening Day last Thursday to 110 pitches have dispensed with conventional wisdom while the Phillies will pitch their #4 pitcher Zach Eflin today and their ace, Aaron Nola, tomorrow as planned. For what it’s worth, the Phillies enter this game with a 3-0 record as they took it to the Braves to open the season. With the crisp weather in D.C. tonight it might feel like an October playoff game, and the hope is Scherzer can prove that great pitching beats good hitting.
We will all get to watch this showdown that was circled on calendars seconds after BAH was rumored to be in agreement with the team who offered him the most money in total. Oh the oozing of all the drama. Harper’s Instagram “thank you” to D.C. was strategically timed and posted hours before this game instead of hours after he officially signed with the Nats’ NL East rival. It’s just what life with BAH is about, and the fans in Philly will find out just like Nats fans and teammates found that he dances to the beat of his own drummer. Drama follows him as Harper creates drama because that sells. Just ask the Kardashians. You know? Well, back to what matters, and the Nationals have their ace of aces on the mound tonight in Scherzer. He is the opposite of drama. He tells it as it is.
“Whatever happens [today], it’s going to be the course of a career facing him. This is just Round 1,” Scherzer said.
Maybe the real drama should be about any changes to the Nationals roster today. Manager Dave Martinez said after Sunday’s game that something could happen, but he did not elaborate on what he was planning. Maybe cooler heads prevailed after the second bullpen meltdown in three games. For anyone who was watching Spring Training games, it was not difficult to see that the bounceback candidates (Trevor Rosenthal and Kyle Barraclough) were not dominant on the mound, and they were brought in to be the bridge to closer Sean Doolittle. Everyone who saw the movie Bridge Over the River Kwai knows what happens when the bridge blows up — you cannot easily reach the other side. Doolittle’s job is to close-out wins, and Sunday’s debacle just showed what happens when his fellow reliever do not do their jobs.
The lineups should be posted shortly, and like most stats in small sample sizes there are some interesting numbers like Wilmer Difo vs. Zach Eflin and Matt Adams also. We will see if Difo and Adams get starts today. Maybe Adams plays leftfield and Soto shifts to rightfield — while I would not suggest that — who knows what Davey Martinez chooses to do to get Adams some playing time. He was by far the hottest Nats player entering the regular season as he homered in 3 straight games to finish up Spring Training on a high note.
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Philadelphia Phillies vs. Washington Nationals
Stadium: Nationals Park, Washington, D.C.
1st Pitch: 7:05 pm EDT
TV: MASN2; MLB App out-of-market MLB Network out-of-market
Nats Radio: 106.7 The Fan and via the MLB app
Line-ups subject to change without notice:
Adam Eaton RF
Trea Turner SS
Juan Soto LF
Anthony Rendon 3B
Matt Adams 1B
Yan Gomes C
Brian Dozier 2B
Max Scherzer RHP
Victor Robles CF