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Washington Nationals vs Cincinnati Reds Series Preview: Nats kick off season in Cincy...

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It may be a day late, but the Washington Nationals’ season is finally here.

MLB: Spring Training-Colorado Rockies at Cincinnati Reds Sam Greene-USA TODAY Sports

Nationals (0-0) vs. Reds (0-0) series info:

Game 1: Friday, March 30 at 4:10 p.m. EST (MASN/106.7 The Fan)

Game 2: Saturday, March 31 at 2:10 p.m. EST (MASN/106.7)

Game 3: Sunday, April 1 at 4:10 p.m. EST (MASN2/106.7)

Pitching matchups:

Friday: Max Scherzer (16-6, 2.51 ERA in 2017) vs. Homer Bailey (6-9, 6.43)

Saturday: Stephen Strasburg (15-4, 2.52) vs. Luis Castillo (3-7, 3.12)

Sunday: Gio Gonzalez (15-9, 2.96) vs. Sal Romano (5-8, 4.45)

What to watch for:

Dave Martinez makes his managerial debut

Whispers of sabermetric influences and outside-the-box defensive shifts have circulated among Nats fans all offseason, but they’ll finally get their first look at Martinez in action on Friday. Previous skippers Dusty Baker and Matt Williams were scrutinized for their bullpen management; Martinez’s reliever usage will almost certainly be the subject of heavy scrutiny early on in the season.

Adam Eaton returns to the lineup

The Nats lost their offensive spark in late April last season when Eaton was lost for the year to a gruesome knee injury. He enters the 2018 campaign as the team’s leadoff hitter and is expected to be 100 percent healthy moving forward. If his knee doesn’t raise any issues, Washington will have an exciting 1-2 punch with Eaton and Trea Turner at the top of the order.

Don’t sleep on the Reds’ offense

You probably know who Joey Votto and Billy Hamilton are, granted you don’t live under some rock that doesn’t have access to MLB.TV. But have you heard of Adam Duvall and Scott Schebler, both of whom cracked the 30-homer mark last season? How about Eugenio Suarez, who just inked a seven-year, $66-million deal following a 2017 campaign in which he hit .260 with 53 extra-base hits? These young Cincinnati hitters can rake, and it’d be a mistake for the Nats’ starters to look past them.

Series history:

The Nationals and Reds have split the all-time series (2005-present) 43-43, with the Nats outscoring Cincinnati 4.7 runs per game to 4.3. Washington won six of seven games against the Reds last season, including all four contests played at the Great American Ballpark.

In their words…

Wick Terrell, Red Reporter

The Reds are 96 games under .500 - 96! - over the last four years, though the front office has been steadfast in their patience with the rebuild. 2018, though, figures to be the first year where the training wheels come off.

These Reds have a solid enough lineup, but it’s their pitching that’ll define this season and beyond. If any of the young arms emerge this year how Luis Castillo did last year, they might finally, finally start winning some games again.