For the sixth time in his seven seasons in D.C., and the fourth straight time overall, Nationals’ ace Max Scherzer will be the club’s Opening Day starter when the 2021 season starts up on April 1 in Washington.
Nationals’ skipper Davey Martinez announced the news this afternoon, after Scherzer, 36, gave up six hits, two homers, and four runs total in a 6-2 loss to the same New York Mets he’ll face in the season opener in the nation’s capital in eleven days.
“He looked good,” Martinez said when asked to assess Scherzer’s work in West Palm Beach on Sunday afternoon, when he faced the Nationals’ divisional rivals.
“He struggled a little bit with his slider. He tried to do a couple different things. I don’t think the home run to [Michael] Conforto — was a changeup, missed location, and then a slide-step that he was trying to incorporate, missed location, but overall, he’s throwing the ball with less effort and the ball is coming out, and I like that.
“So with that being said, Max will be our Opening Day starter.”
Scherzer, heading into the seventh season of his 7-year/$210M deal with the Nationals, has started the first game of the year in each of Martinez’s three Opening Days as the manager, and he said today that it was the obvious decision.
“He’s ready,” Martinez explained. “He threw 90 pitches today. We wanted to get him up to 80-85. He felt good. We got him up to 90, so he’s the guy, he’s the guy that gets everything started for us. He competes, we know what we’re going to get from him, he loves Opening Day, so he’s the guy we’re going to follow Opening Day.”
Before that, however, Scherzer, (coming off a 2020 campaign in which he put up a 3.74 ERA, 3.46 FIP, 23 walks (3.07 BB/9), 92 Ks (12.30 K/9), and a .260/.319/.424 line against in 67 1⁄3 IP), will pitch in a B-game with the Houston Astros next Saturday.
Through four outings in Grapefruit League action this spring, the right-hander has given up nine hits, three walks, and six earned runs, striking out 20, and holding hitters to a .180 AVG in 13 2⁄3 IP.
After next Saturday’s outing, Scherzer will face the Mets again in Game 1 of 162.