Here we are 27-days before Opening Day on April 1, and the first projected Washington Nationals starting pitcher is making his debut in a Spring Training game. Before camp opened in mid-February, it was known that Max Scherzer twisted his ankle. The team was taking it slow with him, and here we are with the 3-time Cy pitcher on the mound for the first time in 2021 to face the St. Louis Cardinals.
In fact today is a day for news about the starting pitchers. We have yet to see Stephen Strasburg, Patrick Corbin, Joe Ross or Jon Lester pitch in official Spring Training games. We learned earlier this week that Lester was undergoing a surgery, today, to remove his thyroid gland, and he will be out 1-2 weeks. The surgery was completed by a doctor in New York City, and the former lymphoma survivor was said to be in recovery from this procedure.
If the weather holds up, Corbin is set to make his first spring start tomorrow followed by an off-day on Sunday, and Ross will be scheduled to pitch against the Mets on Monday. No word on when Strasburg will make his first spring start.
“The only thing that came out of it was that he’s recovering,” manager Dave Martinez said. “He’s doing well, and now we’ll wait and see what the prognosis was.”
In addition, we learned today that Rogelio Armenteros has been shutdown with a forearm strain, and he was a depth starter on the 40-man roster who will probably not factor into the final roster. With question marks about Lester, and the slow ramp-up with the other starters as well as depth of starters — there are certainly several question marks. We have seen Erick Fedde, Austin Voth and Ben Braymer pitch and they are the depth now with Seth Romero behind them.
Pitching coach Jim Hickey on Wednesday said that he has identified eight starting pitchers so far. The issue beyond the aforementioned names is that no other starters are on the 40-man roster if additional moves are made. We saw good first innings from Jackson Rutledge and Cade Cavalli yesterday, and that was a plus as they are the future of this starting rotation especially considering Lester is on a 1-year deal, and Scherzer is currently in the final season of his 7-year deal.
Tonight, Scherzer is scheduled to throw 30-35 pitches per the plan and no more than 2.0 innings of work. He is set to face John Gant of the Cardinals who the Nats have already seen this week.
St. Louis Cardinals vs. Washington Nationals
Stadium: Ballpark of the Palm Beaches; West Palm Beach, Florida
1st Pitch: 6:05 pm EDT
Radio: MLB.com (Cardinals feed)
Lineups subject to change (without notice):
- Trea Turner – SS
- Starlin Castro – 2B
- Juan Soto – RF
- Josh Bell – 1B
- Alex Avila – C
- Yan Gomes – DH
- Yasmany Tomas – LF
- Jordy Mercer – 3B
- Carlos Tocci – CF
Max Scherzer – RHP