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Wire Taps: Washington Nationals Season previews; Nats have to start strong; Max Scherzer wants to improve with age...

Catch up on the last 24 hours in Nationals news before they start playing games that count at 1:05 PM EDT in D.C.

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MLB: St. Louis Cardinals at Washington Nationals Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, and welcome to OPENING DAY Wire Taps! If you read yesterday’s how to FBB post, you’ll already know this, so bear with me — but I’m Will, and this is my fourth (yikes!) season of Wire Tapping.

Each morning, you can find here a docket of every story from all around the Nats-verse, including articles from the smallest blogs and the largest media outlets. Below each link is a short summary of the story or a pullquote from the story. Typically, the links will originate from the Washington Post (WaPo), MASN, NBC Sports Washington (NBCSW), Fangraphs, The Athletic, and other blogs/news sites.

A quick note: two sites that often get featured here, the Post and The Athletic, are paywall-restricted in some form, meaning that after a few articles, you may need a subscription to continue reading.

If you don’t feel comfortable paying for journalism (as humans were until about 19 years ago) and are happy to get a vague sense of a story here in an aggregation-based post, that’s your prerogative.

But while The Athletic’s brass has made some questionable comments about the future of local journalism, they (alongside the Post) produce some of the hardest-hitting and most informative Nats reporting that gets featured here. (Though MASN, NBCSW, and everyone else also put up phenomenal reporting!)

If you can afford to pay for these sites, you should pay for them — their content is vital to understanding the Nats, and journalists need to put food on the dinner table.

By paying for journalism like the stories The Athletic and the Post produce, you incentivize less clickbait and aggregation while funding longer-form, well-reported journalism that cuts to the root of important stories, whether they’re about baseball, football, local politics, or national security. (And if you already subscribe to your state/city’s local paper, that’s also great and extremely valuable, perhaps more so than funding these sites — but still consider it!)

Okay, one other thing: when I started linking four years ago, a plethora of independent Nationals blogs posted regularly — think The Nats Blog, NatsGM, Nationals Prospects, Nationals Review, the Nationals Archive, Half Street Heart Attack, if you can remember them. They didn’t compete with the big guys, but always added nuance to whatever debate was consuming fans. While a few of those sites still post occasionally/regularly, their numbers have diminished significantly.

No matter if you’re a first-time reader or a longtime commenter, if you have opinions about this team that might fit into longer posts than a comment (and you don’t want to share them on Federal Baseball’s Fanpost tool), I’d implore you to start blogging. Blogging requires tons of energy with little reward, but it adds so much value to these links and the discourse that we all share as Nats fans.

If/when you get going, shoot me an email ( or a Tweet (@wkubz) to let me know, and I’ll be sure to give the FBB team a heads-up so we can link to you.

And without further ado, here’s the scoop from South Capitol:

Nationals must get out to a fast start, or watch the NL East pass them by (WaPo)
The Nats can have fun this weekend. Scratch that. They can have fun *today,* because the NL East will tear them apart if they play without urgency as they often did last year, starting with the Mets, then moving on to the Phillies and Braves. If they fall down against either divisional rivals or other NL powerhouses in LA and Chicago, the rest of the East will capitalize and doom the season before it starts.

Max Scherzer thinks he can get better with age, even if logic says otherwise (WaPo)
Max Scherzer takes everything intensely. Including his bullpen sessions in February, during which he pretended as if Ronald Acuña was facing him. He knows age is no longer on his side, that only Justin Verlander and Roy Halladay have ever performed at elite levels above age 34. Derek Lilliquist wants Max to put away more batters in wipeout counts, and Max wants to make the tiny tweaks. He doesn't know how much longer he'll pitch, but he knows he wants to break the rule: in fact, he thinks he can improve.

Nationals announce 2019 Opening Day roster (
It's everyone you thought it would be — any predictions otherwise are NOLL and void.

Recap: Brittany Ghiroli answers your Nationals questions on March 27 (The Athletic)
Austen Williams is likely the first man up in the 'pen, while Erick Fedde will likely be the next man up in the rotation, leapfrogging Joe Ross for once and for all.

Opening day roster announced, Jake Noll makes club (MASN)
Because of Howie Kendrick's injury, the Nats actually got a Spring Training surprise: Jake Noll, who dominated in West Palm, will start the year in the bigs, though he likely won't stick around for long.

Adam Eaton loves potential of Victor Robles; Patrick Corbin throwing more fastballs (MASN)
Eaton has gotten a firsthand view of Robles in center, and he thinks Robles is more than ready, even with a few miscues to come. Also, Patrick Corbin apparently tried to throw more fastballs, the exact thing the Nationals signed him not to do, so that should be interesting!

What are the food prices at Nationals Park? (WaPo)
The Nationals gave their annual food tour last week. They did not include prices. With $18 steak sandwiches, $17 lobster rolls, and $16 po' boys, there's little question as to why they excluded aforementioned prices.

Mailbag! (Nationals Arm Race)
Anthony Rendon is probably headed towards free agency, Carter and Spencer Kieboom will start the year together in Harrisburg, and maybe the Nats want to sign Brian Goodwin?

Washington Nationals face Opening Day without Bryce Harper in season of change (Washington Times)
“I would take one step back and recognize that the free agent process has changed,” said Scherzer, who will take the mound Thursday. “Teams used to covet players, marquee players and be aggressive in trying to get them. I don’t feel like that’s the case anymore. I’ll say that.”

Bryce Harper gone? No problem for reloaded Nationals (Washington Times)
”So it’s clear that Harper will be missed as the Nats cross their fingers that: new second baseman Brian Dozier returns to his 2015-2017 form when he averaged 35 homers and 90 RBI; [right] fielder Adam Eaton plays more than 118 games, his mere total for the last two seasons; and Soto avoids a sophomore slump after a dazzling inaugural campaign that nearly netted Rookie-of-the-Year honors.”

Here Are The New Food Options At Nats Park, Plus Deals For Opening Day (DCist)
You can get Oysters and Wings in the park now, but if you want to eat and drink cheaply, DCist has you covered.

Season previews:

Baseball is the only sport that justifies optimism on Opening Day (WaPo)
Baseball, for whatever reason, has been immune to the recent development of sports being driven by dynasties. So get excited for the "puritan rigor" of baseball games, the lack of ties, and the focus it requires. This piece does a very good job of arguing that baseball is good.

Opening Day Roundtable (SBN)
SBN did a Slack chat post, and you can read the opinions of FBB's fearless leader there!

MLB Opening Day Power Rankings (ESPN)
ESPN's best case for the Nats includes a parade down Constitution. ESPN's worst case for the Nationals includes the rotation and bullpen falling apart as the Phillies get a parade.

Bowden: The 2019 National League season preview and predictions (The Athletic)
Jim Bowden thinks Victor Robles will win Rookie of the Year as the Nats ride Trea Turner, Anthony Rendon, Juan Soto and Adam Eaton's bats to the NL East title (unless Davey Martinez screws up).

Stuffed to Its Seams (NYT)
"That has contributed to a growing sense among players that a system that once reliably rewarded their years of toil no longer works for them. The flurry of contract extensions late in spring training only underscored the point: Take what’s in front of you, because the open market can be a cold, lonely place."

2019 MLB Predictions (FiveThirtyEight)
The Nationals, per ELO, are the sixth best team in the majors, with a 59% chance of making the playoffs, a 38% chance of winning the East, and a whopping 6% chance of winning it all.

Complete games, shutouts nearly extinct in today's baseball (AP)
Starters used to go the distance at least once every two games. Now, it rarely happens – though Mike Rizzo and Max Scherzer don't think they're necessarily gone, even if the 100 pitch count limit is essentially set in stone.