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Washington Nationals vs St. Louis Cardinals: Grapefruit League GameThread

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Washington and St. Louis meet again in Grapefruit League action with Max Scherzer on the mound for the Nationals against Cardinals’ righty John Gant at 1:05 PM ET in Jupiter, FL and on the MLB Network (reportedly).

MLB: St. Louis Cardinals-Workouts Rhona Wise-USA TODAY Sports

Max Scherzer tossed three scoreless and hitless, striking out five of nine St. Louis Cardinals’ hitters he faced in his second outing of the spring last Wednesday in West Palm Beach, FL.

This afternoon the 36-year-old Washington Nationals’ right-hander takes on the Cards again, in Jupiter, FL’s Roger Dean Stadium, where the clubs meet again in Grapefruit League action at 1:05 PM ET.

Scherzer, whose start this spring was delayed by an ankle sprain suffered as he prepared for the beginning of Spring Training, got up to 42 pitches (33 strikes) last time out, after he got in a total of 38 pitches in his first start of the year.

“I was able to put a little more intensity into the ankle and that checked out great,” Scherzer said in talking about his progression between his first and second outings.

“I was able to get three innings in today, and at a higher intensity level. So, I’m progressing as expected, and it’s good to get out there and throw three innings.”

Did seeing what Scherzer was able to do in start No. 2 convince manager Davey Martinez to confirm the three-time Cy Young award winner as the Nationals’ Opening Day starter for the sixth time in the last seven seasons? Did he make a decision while watching Scherzer vs the Cards?

“No I have not, we have to get through a couple ten days or so and then I’ll let you know,” Martinez joked. “Max looked good though.”

“He was pumping strikes. He looked really good. Ball’s coming out — saw his true velo today, 92-95, so he looked good.”

Scherzer takes the mound again this afternoon as he builds toward the start of the season, if not the first game, though it remains to be seen which starter will get the nod for Game 1 of 162.

Martinez was asked earlier this week, if we should read into the fact that the rotation right now has Stephen Strasburg first, followed by Scherzer, Patrick Corbin, and Joe Ross, with Jon Lester working his way back after a surgical procedure delayed his progression.

“I probably wouldn’t read too much into that,” Martinez said with a laugh. “We just want to get these guys ready.”

HERE’S THE NATIONALS’ LINEUP FOR TODAY’S GAME VS THE CARDS: