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Washington Nationals vs St. Louis Cardinals: Grapefruit League GameThread

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Max Scherzer makes his 2020 Grapefruit League debut in West Palm Beach tonight as the Nationals and Cardinals go at it at 6:05 PM ET. RADIO ONLY VIA MLB.com.

MLB: Washington Nationals-Workouts Mary Holt-USA TODAY Sports

Max Scherzer suffered an ankle sprain as he worked to get ready for the start of Spring Training, but neither he or the Washington Nationals’ brass seemed too concerned the injury would keep him out of action for long when it was revealed earlier this spring.

“I was just running and doing intervals and sprained my ankle. It is what it is. I’ve had these before,” Scherzer explained early in camp last month.

“I had the doctors all look at it, they think the ankle is fine. Especially long-term. Just been dealing with some inflammation in the joint.”

Five days later, Scherzer got on a mound and threw as he tested the ankle.

“Max threw off the mound. He was about 80-85%, he threw 40 pitches. No complaints, no issues, we’ll see how he feels tomorrow and we’ll go from there,” manager Davey Martinez told reporters on February 24th.

The next step he outlined at that point was to see how the 36-year-old right-hander reacted to the test.

“We’re going to see how he feels tomorrow, and then we’ll progress from there, but like I said, he came off the mound and he felt fine.

“Ankle didn’t bother him at all. We’ll see how he feels and then we’ll go from there. But we definitely got to get him another bullpen in for sure, and then we’ll go from there.”

A little over a week later, new Nationals’ pitching coach Jim Hickey said Scherzer was close to getting on the mound in game action.

“If everything goes according to plan,” he said on March 2nd, “Max will probably do a little of a touchy-feely bullpen tomorrow and start the game on the 5th.”

“There won’t be another live batting practice,” Hickey explained, “... as long as he responds well, and I think that he will.”

Last night, Martinez confirmed that Scherzer would be good to go for tonight’s matchup with the St. Louis Cardinals (6:05 PM ET in West Palm Beach; Radio only via MLB.com).

“Max is starting tomorrow,” Martinez said. “Yeah, as you know, he’s typical Max, he’s rip-raring to go.”

Scherzer finished the sixth year of his 7-year/$210M deal with the Nationals with a 3.74 ERA, a 3.46 FIP, 23 walks (3.07 BB/9), 92 Ks (12.30 K/9), and a .260/.319/.424 line against over his 12 starts and 67 1⁄3 IP in the 60-game season.

How will he fare in his 2021 Grapefruit League debut? We’ll find out tonight, though it’s a radio only broadcast tonight, so we’ll just be listening along. Who needs visuals, amirite?

HERE’S THE NATIONALS’ LINEUP FOR THEIR MATCHUP WITH THE CARDS: