Here we go again. Opening Day is back, a bit later than scheduled, for the Washington Nationals.
Even if the expectations for the team aren’t particularly grand and will likely end without many meaningful games in September and October as they look to transition into a new era, the reality is that they start the season 0-0, just like everyone else in the majors.
And for the Nationals, this year starts against a familiar opening opponent in the New York Mets.
The Nats and Mets have been scheduled to open the season against each other in each of the last four 162-game schedules that MLB has been released between 2019-22.
The catch is that both 2020 and 2021 were postponed so the Nats and Mets opened against other teams.
Here’s the lowdown from Nationals Park ahead of the first series of the season...
- Game One: Thursday, April 7th, 7:05 pm EDT. TV: MASN, Radio: 106.7 The Fan
- Game Two: Friday, April 8th, 7:05 pm EDT. TV: AppleTV+, Radio: 106.7 The Fan
- Game Three: Saturday, April 9th, 7:05 pm EDT. TV: MASN and MLB Network (out-of-market), Radio: 106.7 The Fan
- Game Four: Sunday, April 10th, 1:35 pm EDT. TV: MASN and MLB Network (out-of-market), Radio: 106.7 The Fan
- Game One: Patrick Corbin (0-0, -.-- ERA) vs Tylor Megill (0-0, -.-- ERA)
- Game Two: Josiah Gray (0-0, -.-- ERA) vs Max Scherzer (0-0, -.-- ERA)
- Game Three: Aníbal Sánchez (0-0, -.-- ERA) vs Chris Bassitt (0-0, -.-- ERA)
- Game Four: Erick Fedde (0-0, -.-- ERA) vs Carlos Carrasco (0-0, -.-- ERA)
Keibert Ruiz: Nobody finished the abbreviated spring slate hotter for the Nationals than Ruiz, who slugged two home runs in his final two games.
The backstop’s final slash line in Spring Training was a strong .333/.360/.667 with four extra-base hits and seven RBIs in just 24 at-bats. Set to hit fifth in the order to start the season, look for Ruiz to start hot with plenty of baserunners ahead of him.
Dominic Smith: The trade rumors involving Smith going to the San Diego Padres in a potential Eric Hosmer deal definitely didn’t faze the first baseman turned outfielder.
In 26 spring at-bats, Smith boasted a dominant .423/.531/.846 slash line with a pair of home runs. Even with the Designated Hitter coming to the NL this offseason, Smith figures to only play a rotational role for the Mets between first base, left field, and DH this season.
Aníbal Sánchez: He’s back! After sitting out the 2021 season entirely, Sánchez returned to the Nationals this spring on a minor league contract and evidently did enough to impress the team that he had his contract selected and will be part of the Opening Day rotation.
Whatever he did to impress the team, it definitely wasn’t in his last start. Against the St. Louis Cardinals, Sánchez allowed 10 runs in four innings of work with three walks and just two strikeouts. He’ll be hoping to do just a bit better this Saturday in his season debut.
Mark Canha: One of the newer faces in Queens this year, Canha certainly didn’t have the start he would’ve wanted with his new ballclub, putting up a measly .219/.219/.344 slash line in 10 games during Spring Training.
Canha projects as the Mets’ primary starting center fielder this season, but he’ll need to do better than he did this spring in order to hold down that role over the course of the year.
From the opposing dugout
Check out some of the top Mets storylines from our friends at Amazin’ Avenue...
- Scherzer likely to pitch Game 2, Nimmo’s status for Opening Day uncertain
- Fair or not, 2022 will define Francisco Lindor
- Mets announce Jacob deGrom has a stress reaction in his right shoulder
One more thing to watch
Hmm, this is a tough one. If only there were some franchise icon coming back to where he ascended from a great pitcher to a Hall of Fame-caliber pitcher.
As you may have heard many times, Max Scherzer will make his first start for the Mets against the Nationals, the team with which he finally added a World Series title to his stellar résumé.
After deGrom’s injury, it looked like Scherzer may have even started on Opening Day at Nationals Park, just like the good old days. However, with a slight hamstring tweak and potential rain on Thursday, Scherzer will play it cautious and likely start on Friday instead.
“It’s going to be fun,” Juan Soto said of facing his former teammate, as quoted by Jessica Camerato of MLB.com.
“Even when he was here, he was talking to me, he was going back and forth, what he’s going to throw me and what he’s going to do.
“I know he didn’t give me any of his special things, but I think it’s going to be fun. He’s going to try to strike me out, and I will try my best to not strike out because I know he wants that really bad.”
In an interesting twist, that now sets Scherzer up to face one of the players he was traded for, Josiah Gray, on Friday. Let’s just hope that the new Apple TV+ deal will give this game the kind of production that it deserves.
Series Preview Trivia
In a new feature of our series previews this year, we’re going to have a trivia question each series for you to try your hand at and answer down in the comments, then we’ll reveal the answer in our next series preview. If it’s popular, we may even keep score over the season.
So, to debut this new part of our series previews, here’s our first question...
The Nationals have faced four former Cy Young winners on Opening Day since 2005. Jacob deGrom, who was set to do so again this year before he was shut down with an injury, is one of the four pitchers. Can you name the other three?