As Spring Training is more than halfway through, the Washington Nationals neighbors in the complex at the FITTEAM at the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches have not played many starters in their head-to-head games. The only names you might recognize for 3 at-bats each was George Springer and Yuli Gurriel from their last game on February 27th. Sorry, you see more starters on long road trips. Fans who brought controversial signs had them confiscated as you saw in videos, and one fan told us they were warned for shouting cheaters at the Astros. The sign policy for the ballpark states that all signs must be pre-approved.
Of course in that game there was no Jose Altuve to yell at or A.J. Hinch who was their previous manager who was fired. Now there is Dusty Baker over there as the Astros skipper, and we will see today if we get to see a lineup similar to October 30th. That would be much easier for the Astros who have all of their starting lineup back from that day except for catcher Robinson Chirinos. While the Astros lost Gerritt Cole to free agency from their starting rotation, they will have a full year of Zack Greinke, and the pitcher on the mound today, Lance McCullers Jr. is set to rejoin their rotation. This is why Fangraphs has projected the Astros as the best team in the Majors (on paper). Baker has inherited some great teams before in his numerous managerial jobs, but none better than this golden opportunity. With the Yankees injuries, Vegas has the Astros and Dodgers as their World Series favorites. For the reigning World Series champs, Nats’ manager Dave Martinez will have a team that is built to compete for the NL East title. No team has repeated as a World Series champ since the Yankees of 1999 and 2000.
The Nationals got some disturbing news on Max Scherzer who is dealing with a sore right-side and was scratched from his start yesterday, however, he threw approximately 60 pitches in a bullpen session. Scherzer does not want to sound any alarms and says it is just fatigue.
“Just a combination between lat, serratus, oblique. Just that whole general area,” Scherzer explained. “Once I adjusted my mechanics to alleviate the rhomboid stress [that was an issue last season], I shifted out to the side where I always had it. Just that part was just lagging behind in terms of where my arm strength was and how I was long-tossing in January. It’s just been playing catch-up. There’s not even a strain. There’s no MRIs. There’s nothing like that. This is purely just a fatigue, endurance thing.”
In other news, Adam Eaton is still dealing with his sore hamstring, and will be in the lineup today as a designated hitter. Yesterday we saw Michael A. Taylor starting in Eaton’s normal position of rightfield, and today is the third day that Victor Robles is out of the lineup as he rejoined the team last week to DH. That is most likely the backup plan if Eaton is not available start the regular season. That would be a big blow as he is a table-setter in the two-hole in the batting order. We are two weeks from the Nationals settling into their hotel rooms in New York City as they have Opening Day on March 26th.
Today’s game will only have Astros’ radio broadcast available on the MLB app and in the Houston market. For the Nationals, they have Stephen Strasburg on the mound. This could feel a little like Game 6 of the World Series if you were into some nostalgic moments. Yesterday when Juan Soto clanked a two-run home run off of the rightfield foul post, we were immediately drawn back to Howie Kendrick‘s historic blast in Game 7.
Literally listening to “Seven Nation Army” while we share today’s lineup…
AND THE MESSAGE COMIN’ FROM MY EYES SAYS LEAVE IT ALONE!#Strasmas // #NATITUDE pic.twitter.com/3C14DNNYTL
— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) March 11, 2020