First things first: Yes, that banner is actually hanging from the scoreboard. And yes, pretty much every mention of Nationals Park in the entire building has been covered up and re-branded for the weekend. I'll let all of you decide how you feel about this stunt. Now, let's talk about some actual baseball...
Stephen Strasburg faces the Phillies tonight for only the second time. The previous outing, of course, represented the low point in his big-league career. Not because of how he pitched -- on Aug. 21, 2010, the rookie right-hander allowed one run on two hits, striking out six over 4 13 innings -- but because of what happened on his final pitch: a 91-mph change-up that snapped his ulnar collateral ligament.
Strasburg has certainly come a long way since that night at Citizens Bank Park. He'll enter this game with a 1.13 ERA (second-lowest in baseball). And he'll be charged tonight with leading the first-place Nationals to victory over the five-time NL East champs.
Plenty of updates to come, so please check Nats Insider's live game thread often...
PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES at WASHINGTON NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN, MLB.tv
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM), XM 89
Weather: Scattered storms, 80 degrees, Wind 5 mph LF to RF
SS Ian Desmond
3B Steve Lombardozzi
LF Bryce Harper
RF Jayson Werth
1B Chad Tracy
2B Danny Espinosa
CF Rick Ankiel
C Jesus Flores
RHP Stephen Strasburg
SS Jimmy Rollins
LF Juan Pierre
3B Placido Polanco
RF Hunter Pence
CF Shane Victorino
1B Laynce Nix
C Carlos Ruiz
2B Pete Orr
RHP Kyle Kendrick
Bryce Harper struggled by his standards in 2016 and he says he know why it happened last year. While it was rumored last season that he was playing through injuries, Harper never really missed significant time, nor did he really say that his injuries were the reason for his disappointing numbers.
Speaking with the media today at spring training, Harper hinted at his injuries from last season as he said he was just trying to stay in the lineup every day.
Although Harper's statistics dropped off dramatically from his MVP season in 2015, his numbers weren't entirely awful last year. He still hit 24 homers, drove in 86 runs and he had an .814 OPS.
With a full offseason to heal up, Harper will be a prime bounce-back candidate as he looks to help the Nationals win their third NL East title in the last four years.
Related: Sorry D.C. sports fans, Bryce Harper is a Dallas Cowboys fan
The Nationals aren't certain to have ace Max Scherzer ready to pitch for Opening Day. Scherzer, 32, was unable to compete in the World Baseball Classic this summer due to a stress fracture in his right ring finger.
When he spoke to the media today at the first bullpen session of spring training, he said that the fracture has healed but the symptoms continue.
Scherzer also said he'd just started throwing again this week. Manager Dusty Baker confimed that the Nationals don't know whether Scherzer will be ready to start the season.
Any time a team's star pitcher suffers an unusual hand injury, it's cause for concern for the club and fans.
Scherzer won the NL Cy Young Award last season and posted a 20-7 record as a starter. He also led the MLB with 284 strikeouts.
Scherzer is an especially vital part of the Nationals rotation considering the injury history of Stephen Strasburg, who landed on the DL twice last season, once with soreness in the elbow that needed Tommy John surgery in 2010.
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