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Pitcher Max Scherzer 'probably not' starting for Nationals on opening day

Pitcher Max Scherzer 'probably not' starting for Nationals on opening day

BY TYLER BYRUM, @theTylerByrum

Opening day is less than three weeks away, but the Washington Nationals have already announced that their ace will not be on the mound. 

Prior to today's spring training game against the Mets, manager Dusty Baker responded when asked if ace Max Scherzer was to start on opening day. "At this point, probably not."

Afterwards, Baker would go on to point out that day two, three and four count as well in the Nationals season. 

Earlier in the off-season, it was announced that Scherzer suffered a stress fracture in the knuckle of his throwing hand ring finger back in August. Playing through the discomfort, the 32-year-old ended the 2016 season winning the 2016 National League Cy Young Award.

This injury would go on to prevent the nine-year-veteran from playing in the World Baseball Classic and have him assigned to a handful of minor league starts before Washington officially starts their's.

Last season, Scherzer went 20-7 as a starter and led the NL with 284 strikeouts and a 0.968 WHIP. The Nationals’ ace was also the first pitcher with 20 wins, 250 strikeouts and a sub-.200 BAA (batting average against) since Bob Gibson in 1968, according to ESPN Stats & Info.

Stephen Strasburg, would be the next pitcher expected to make the start on opening day. In his first seven years in the majors, Strasburg has battled injuries, year after year.  He missed the final month of 2016 and finished with a 15-4 season due to a strained flexor mass. 

MORE NATIONALS: Bryce Harper looks dominant in spring training

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Trea Turner hits for the cycle despite freezing Colorado temperature

Trea Turner hits for the cycle despite freezing Colorado temperature

DENVER (AP) -- Trea Turner has hit for the third cycle in Washington Nationals history against the Colorado Rockies on Tuesday night.

Turner also has a career-high seven RBIs on a cold night in the Mile High City.

He had a single in the first, a two-run double in the second, a two-run homer in the sixth and a bases-loaded triple in the seventh.

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The field temperature was a balmy 37 degrees when Turner recorded the final part of his cycle in the seventh inning.

It was the first cycle by the Nationals since Cristian Guzman on Aug. 28, 2008.

Overall, this was the ninth cycle in Expos/Nationals history.

In addition, Turner's seven RBIs are tied for the second-most in a single game in Nationals history.

The Nationals hung on to beat the Rockies 15-12 after giving up seven runs in the final three innings.

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Bryce Harper named National League Player of the Week

Bryce Harper named National League Player of the Week

If you've understandably been caught up with the Capitals and Wizards in their respective playoff series, you might not be aware of just how hot Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper is right now. Fresh off a three-game sweep of the rival Mets in New York, Harper was named National League Player of the Week. 

For the whole week, Harper hit .550 (11-for-20) with four doubles, three home runs, seven RBI, seven walks and 10 runs scored. 

He is now leading all of baseball in batting average (.400), he's tied for second in homers (7), and he's alone in second in RBI (20). He's also amassed a blistering 1.340 OPS through the team's first 18 games. 

Harper's biggest game of the past week came in Atlanta when he went yard twice, with his second homer being a grand slam. He finished the game 4-for-4 with two homers, one double, five RBI, one walk and four runs scored. 

With Harper's injuries from last season behind him (even though he won't completely admit to being hurt), the Nationals' right fielder is back to, or even better than, his 2015 form that ended with his first career MVP award. During that season Harper took home player of the week honors three times. 

The Nationals as a team have the best record in baseball at 13-5, and already have a three-game lead in the NL East. 

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