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Washington Nationals’ lineup for the series opener with the Miami Marlins: Max Scherzer returns...

Max Scherzer is back! So is Jayson Werth. And his neck is apparently better. Please no late scratch, please no late scratch. Nationals take on the Marlins at 7:05. Here’s the Nats’ lineup...

San Francisco Giants v Washington Nationals - Game 2 Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images

Washington Nationals fans finally heard the word they’ve been waiting for when Dusty Baker was asked late last night if Max Scherzer would be his starter tonight. The word?


A one-word answer, sure, but good enough. He was skipped in the Nats’ rotation, and pushed back from Sunday’s doubleheader, but Scherzer, who’s been dealing with neck trouble that has cost him two starts, will, barring any setbacks or a late scratch, take the mound tonight in the series opener with the Miami Marlins in Nationals Park.

It will be the Cy Young contender’s third start of the month against the Nationals’ NL East rivals, after he left a start in Miami when the neck tightened up on him after he slept wrong before facing the Marlins, then returned to the rotation for seven strong innings against the Fish in a 3-2 win in the nation’s capital which saw him give up five hits, two walks, and two runs, while striking out nine.

Scherzer made two starts after the issue first cropped up, and the second time it did it was in the opposite side of his neck than the previous occurrence.

But after two weeks, a number of throwing sessions and a successful bullpen, Scherzer is set to return, just in time to face the red-hot Giancarlo Stanton and the Marlins after the Nationals’ four-game split with the New York Mets this past weekend.

Dusty Baker talked after the Nationals’ drama-filled win over the Mets last night on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball about getting a split of the series and doubleheader.

“We wanted a sweep,” Baker said, referring to the doubleheader, in particular.

“We had action on the sweep in the first game, but we left 12 or 13 men on base and had plenty of opportunities, but as the day — then you know when you lose the first game then you’ve got to be satisfied with splitting the second game, because you don’t have a choice, you certainly don’t want to lose a doubleheader which is a very difficult thing to win or lose. So, it’s been a long three days for us since we got back from Houston so hopefully we get some rest tonight, and come out strong against the surging Miami, they’re playing pretty good baseball.”

And by “pretty good baseball”, Baker means wins in four straight, seven of the last eight, and 13 of their last 16, as the Marlins have charged into the Wild Card race.

Entering play today, they’re 4.5-games out out the second Wild Card spot and 12.0 games out in the NL East. Nothing is decided yet.