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Wire Taps: Judge rules in Nationals’ favor in MASN dispute; Max Scherzer returns; Nobody knows their days of the week...

Catch up on the last 24 hours in Nationals news before the series opener with the Cubs (at 2:20 PM ET today)...

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MLB: Washington Nationals at Pittsburgh Pirates Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Max Scherzer was able to pitch, and will now need to make sure he’s okay after his first start of the month. That’s the good news. The bad news is that the Nats will play the Cubs at 2:20 today. In the words of FP Santangelo, here’s hoping they slept fast while on the plane.

Here’s what’s coming up in Chicago:

Judge sides with Nationals in Orioles TV dispute (ESPN/AP)
It looks like it really, really could be all over: a judge ruled the Orioles owe the Nats $296.8 million for their TV rights between 2012 and 2016, confirming an arbitration panel's decision — and the Nats may get interest, too. It is a potentially franchise-altering decision, as it gives the Nats an entirely new source of income and could well spell massive changes for the Orioles and MASN as well.

Washington Nationals gain decisive legal victory in long-running MASN fight | SportBusiness Media
After eight long years of the Nats battling the Orioles in court, and the Orioles nit-picking at every single possible thing to avoid paying the Nats their money, Baltimore will owe Washington “nearly $100 million” (contradicting other reports?) in rights fees.

MLB players never know what day of the week it is (WaPo)
Every start of a series, regardless of when it starts, is a Monday. Every last game is a Wednesday, but every day game is a Sunday. Nobody—especially the players sprinting cross-country to get from Fresno to DC—-in the majors knows what day it is, and it seems like it's a problem.

Max’s return plus hot Nats equals danger in NL (
The Nats have been excited for Max Scherzer to come back and pitch like himself for a while — and his return could kick off a hot streak for this team at just the right time, especially if he pitches this well and the bullpen keeps it going. (Also: Joe Ross threw a bullpen, and Ryan Zimmerman will need 25 ABs before he returns.)

Scherzer returns, rest of Nationals finish off blowout win (MASN)
Scherzer's start was delightfully uneventful if not vintage Scherzer: he pitched four innings of one-run ball over 71 pitches, and though the game was close for a while, the Nats were able to pull it out.

Ross throws off mound, Elías still two days away (MASN)
Joe Ross, it seems, will get the ball on Saturday afternoon, while Roenis Elías threw off flat ground and will likely throw a bullpen tomorrow.

Cabrera has become indispensable to Nats in short order (MASN)
The Nats owe Asdrubal Cabrera $180,000. For those 180,000 dollars, they've gotten a .324 average with 13 RBI and a 1.044 OPS. Now, the question: is there any room for him to keep contributing if and when Ryan Zimmerman returns?

Five months after their breakup, the Nationals don’t miss Bryce Harper (The Athletic)
Juan Soto, unlike many rookie phenoms, has been even better in his sophomore year. Victor Robles, now guaranteed regular playing time, is displaying the raw mix of power, speed, and defense that made him worth the hype in the first place. Adam Eaton and a number of other veterans are carrying the banner well for the Nats — and playing defense way better than Harper did all of last year. The clubhouse is gelling well, maybe better than ever, thanks to Gerardo Parra, Anibal Sánchez, and Brian Dozier. Harper has been good, but not great in Philly, while Patrick Corbin, the player for whom they used most of the money they likely would've given Harper, has been stellar, as have most of the Nats' offseason additions.

Which teams are the most improved defensively in baseball? (The Athletic)
"Put an asterisk next to this one. The Nationals have gone from -55 Runs Saved to -16. In other words, their defense is better but still not average in totality. The key here is that the Nationals’ outfield defense improved by 49 runs, with Harper’s -26 replaced by better performance in right field from Adam Eaton (-2) and much better in center from Gold Glove candidate Victor Robles (15 Runs Saved there)."

Nationals make two roster moves to clear space for Max Scherzer and Brian Dozier (WaPo)
The Opening Day starters are back, meaning Adrián Sanchez and Kyle McGowin are, yet again, on the road to Harrisburg.

In new book, professor argues that Nats should never let Teddy Roosevelt win again. Wait. What? (Let Teddy Win)
"So Teddy was apparently not a fan. And now that the book has been published, Swanson is openly calling for the Nationals to return to the tradition of not letting Teddy win. “Don’t let TR, a noted baseball curmudgeon, win anymore. No mas!” Swanson wrote this week. “Get right with baseball history and perhaps, just maybe, the Nationals will find themselves playing playoff baseball again this October.”"