Wait, we waited an entire winter for that? And they lost? Okay, wrap it up, season’s over, forfeit the next thirteen years, the fundamentals (whatever those are) are broken.
Everyone—from MASN to The Post to The Athletic to Chuck freakin’ Todd—declared that the Nats’ inability to hit with runners in scoring position, play small ball, and manage the bullpen correctly was essentially a continuation of last year.
While the bullpen thing is slightly troubling, the major upshot from yesterday is that the Nats faced the best pitcher in the NL last year by fWAR, were able to string a few hits together, and then the reigning Cy Young winner shut down every rally with the help of some dumb luck that will likely not occur regularly. If the Nats can’t get it done against more average pitchers, that’s another story — but losing to Jacob deGrom is not a reason to press the panic button or to declare Spring Training and the season a failure.
Anyhow: here’s the beat from South Capitol Street:
In opener, Nats show that, fundamentally, not much has changed (WaPo)
The Nats stressed the little things all winter. How this year would be different. As it turns out, the nerves and the old habits were more powerful than the desire to play a cleaner brand of baseball. (Also, Davey Martinez has gotten on Tom Boswell's nerves already by not fully explaining why he put Matt Grace in.)
Max Scherzer strong, but Nats lose to Mets (MLB.com)
Jacob deGrom was phenomenal. Max Scherzer was slightly less phenomenal thanks to one pitch that Robinson Cano muscled out of the park. (And Davey Martinez is still unable to pinch hit at the right time, it seems!)
Noll calls making Nats 'best feeling of my life' (MLB.com)
Davey Martinez gave Jake Noll the news after the exhibition game against the Yankees, and needless to say, the 25-year-old prospect was elated, even if his time in the majors will likely be short and that he's serving as an example for other minor leaguers: impress the big-league brass, and your dividend will come.
Familiar vibe for Nats in opening day loss to Mets (MASN)
The Nats couldn't score with runners in scoring position. They made unnecessary outs. The bullpen was mishandled. Washington couldn't quite get it done in a close game. Yeah, that's familiar alright.
Scherzer did all he could on the mound, but Nats come up short (MASN)
“I felt like I was executing pitches,” Scherzer said. “The only pitch I didn’t quite execute the way I wanted to was the cutter. It was good, but I wasn’t executing it exactly the way I wanted to. Every other pitch, I felt like I was executing it or missing the spot that I wanted to, so from that standpoint, this is a great first start for me to go out there again and make a little adjustment on the cutter and go out there and compete again.”
The botched rally that defined an opening day loss (MASN)
With runners on first and third, the Nats had three outs with which to score. Trea Turner wasn't able to get the ball in play. Rendon grounded out, and then Victor Robles got caught in the middle. Felt about right!
Why Nationals fans chanted ‘Lock him up!’ at Anthony Rendon on Opening Day (WaPo)
Nats fans, as far as we know, are not interested in the imminent imprisonment of their third baseman. They are, however, interested in seeing him in a Nationals uniform for life.
When it comes to Anthony Rendon, lock him up — for the sake of the Nationals’ future (WaPo)
Jacob deGrom got his extension, and the Mets' clubhouse will feel a lot more relaxed for it. If Anthony Rendon decides he wants to spend the rest of his career in Washington, it would be great — and it would get rid of the looming free agencies that have held the Nats' clubhouse hostage for so many years.
Nationals can’t deliver what they promised in 2-0 Opening Day loss to Mets (WaPo)
The Nats were supposed to get the little things right yesterday — the situational hitting, baserunning, the nuances. They did not get them right.
Right or wrong, the Nats are going all-in on the season’s first month (The Athletic)
Max Scherzer will go to the hill three times in the next nine games, and with a schedule that's stacked in the early months of the year, that's no coincidence: the Nats want to erase last season, and get it done quickly — as in within this month. (Plus, Max's inning count will stay about the same.)
Gammons: Thoughts, storylines and predictions for the new baseball season (The Athletic)
The Nationals seem calm without Bryce Harper, even though he created their identity (and cemented their inability to win a playoff series). Gammons thinks the season could be decided by July 31st, too!
One game does not a season make, but the Nationals have little time or margin for error (The Athletic)
The Nationals looked really good with a lot of fundamentals. Others didn't get tested. Other rallies were stifled by bad luck or poor baserunning decisions.
In his first Opening Day, Victor Robles shows why Nats are excited about him (WaPo)
The Nationals have built Victor Robles up for this moment, GM Mike Rizzo said. And serving as the Nats' second leadoff hitter, he showed exactly what he could do — right before showing exactly why he's still a work in progress.
For Opening Day, Nats fans ripped, defaced and marked-up their Bryce Harper jerseys (WaPo)
You can rip off the name, cross it out, duct tape "SOTO" or "RENDON," or pretend like Bryce is Lord Voldemort.
Max Scherzer, Jacob deGrom duel lives up to hype on opening day (Washington Times)
“You can all see what happens when two Cy Young winners go head to head,” Eaton said. “It’s a heck of a battle.”