Nationals at Phillies Series Info:
Game 1: Friday, April 7 at 3:05 p.m. EST (MASN/106.7 The Fan)
Game 2: Saturday, April 8 at 7:05 p.m. EST (MASN2/106.7)
Game 3: Sunday, April 9 at 1:35 p.m. EST (MASN2/106.7)
Friday: Max Scherzer (0-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. Vince Velasquez (0-0, 0.00)
Saturday: TBD (Jeremy Guthrie?) vs. Aaron Nola (0-0, 0.00)
Sunday: Stephen Strasburg (1-0, 2.57 ERA) vs. Jeremy Hellickson (1-0, 1.80 ERA)
What to watch for:
Max Scherzer makes first start of the year
After dealing with a stress fracture in his right ring finger that has bothered him since the end of last season, Max Scherzer will be making his much-anticipated 2017 debut Friday.
Scherzer, fresh off a Cy Young-winning season, will look to start the year on the right foot against a Phillies team that scored the fewest runs in baseball a year ago.
After Stephen Strasburg, Tanner Roark and Gio Gonzalez combined to allow just four earned runs in 19 innings (1.89 ERA) against the Miami Marlins, the bar is pretty high.
Ryan Zimmerman off to hot start
Despite finishing last season with a career-low .642 OPS, Ryan Zimmerman started Opening Day at first base for the Nats.
Through the first three games of the year, however, he’s kept the critics quiet.
Zimmerman is 5-12 (.417) with two home runs, a double and three runs scored, hitting homers in back-to-back games for the first time since Sept. 1-2 in 2015.
Zimmerman has been known to be a streaky hitter his entire career, so it’s far too soon to claim that he’s returned to his former self. Regardless, it will be interesting to see if he can continue to swing a hot bat in Philadelphia.
Jeanmar Gomez not a lock to remain closer
Last season, the Phillies relied on Jeanmar Gomez to handle ninth inning duties. He converted 37 saves, but also posted an ERA of 4.85 and K/9 of only 6.2.
Gomez converted his sole save opportunity of the Phillies’ opening series with the Cincinnati Reds on Opening Day, but still gave up two runs.
"I had two guys up in the 'pen in that ninth inning," manager Pete Mackanin told CSN Philly.
"(Gomez) is just not getting the ball down the way he did when he was successful. I want to make sure that he gets opportunities, but at the same time, I don't want to let games slip away."
If the Nats make things interesting in the ninth early in the series against Gomez, they might not see him in the same role the following game.
Who to watch out for: Howie Kendrick
Left fielder Howie Kendrick boasts a .354/.403/.415 line in 73 plate appearances against the Nationals, having seen them frequently after spending the past two seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Mackanin has slotted Kendrick in at second in the batting order, just ahead of young stars Odubel Herrera and Maikel Franco.
If he can get on base consistently, Philadelphia will be in a good position to score plenty of runs in the series.