Having thoroughly decimated the Rockies' MLB-worst pitching staff over the last two night, the Nationals today try to do it once again. And once again, they'll be facing a struggling left-hander in Josh Outman, whose name sounds a bit ironic given his 8.64 ERA entering play today.
Adam LaRoche is back after taking a day off, but red-hot Tyler Moore remains in the Nationals' lineup, shifting back to left field. Jesus Flores is back behind the plate after getting last night off.
Edwin Jackson takes the mound, looking to keep his ERA under 3.00 and to give himself a winning record for the season and for his career (he's 64-64 at the moment).
As has been the case the last three days, I'll chime in with some thoughts along the way on the Nats Insider live game thread. And since it's a day game, I'll post some instant analysis as soon as it ends as well. Enjoy the matinee...
WASHINGTON NATIONALS at COLORADO ROCKIES
Where: Coors Field
Gametime: 3:10 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN, MLB.tv
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM), XM 188
Weather: Partly cloudy, 92 degrees, Wind 7 mph out to LF
2B Danny Espinosa
CF Bryce Harper
3B Ryan Zimmerman
RF Michael Morse
1B Adam LaRoche
SS Ian Desmond
LF Tyler Moore
C Jesus Flores
RHP Edwin Jackson
CF Dexter Fowler
2B Marco Scutaro
LF Carlos Gonzalez
1B Todd Helton
3B Chris Nelson
RF Tyler Colvin
C Wil Nieves
SS Jonathan Herrera
LHP Josh Outman
HP Mark Carlson, 1B Angel Hernandez (cc), 2B Chris Conroy, 3B Ed Hickox
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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