Play ball. The Nationals are looking to carry the momentum from their 2019 World Series championship when the ‘20 season opens July 23 or 24 with a shortened 60-game regular season.
The team remains mostly intact from its first title in franchise history. The pitching staff, which threw 153 innings in the postseason, has had more time to recover from the lengthy run. Watch for young talent, like Juan Soto and Victor Robles, to continue their emergence early in their Major League careers.
Last year, the Nats were 27-33 after 60 games on June 4. But that was less than two weeks after their 19-31 start, and, well, things turned out quite differently by the end of the year.
Let’s dive into some key questions for the Nationals this season:
When will camp start, and where?
Camp is scheduled to open on July 1, when pitchers and catchers report first. Preseason action is expected to be held at Nationals Park.
When is Opening Day?
Opening Day is slated for July 23 or 24.
Which teams will be on the schedule?
The schedule will be designed to limit travel. The Nationals will face each of their National League East opponents -- the Braves, Marlins, Mets and Phillies -- 10 times. The remaining 20 games will include Interleague Play against American League East clubs, split between the Blue Jays, Orioles, Rays, Red Sox and Yankees.
How are the Nationals’ injured players doing?
Veteran reliever Will Harris was sidelined during Spring Training with a left abdomen injury and was nearing his return when play was halted. Since then, Harris has been working out with fellow Major Leaguers in his neighborhood in preparation to pitch at a higher frequency over a condensed season, he told MLB Network last month.
What are some competitions to watch when camp resumes?
The starting spot at third base has not been finalized. Carter Kieboom was given the opportunity to earn the job in the spring, and the team will eye his development when camp resumes. If the Nats do not believe Kieboom will be ready to go at third for Opening Day, veteran Asdrúbal Cabrera -- who has been mentoring Kieboom -- can fill that role.
The 26th roster spot is still up for grabs. Emilio Bonifácio and Andrew Stevenson emerged as contenders in Florida, though Washington’s needs could change with the new designated-hitter rule for the NL. Bonifácio would give the club options at multiple infield and outfield positions, and Stevenson could be a fifth outfielder who has been utilized in the past as a left-handed pinch hitter.
Who will serve as the DH?
The Nationals’ roster was constructed for versatility, so they have options here. Howie Kendrick claimed the spot during the World Series last season, and having him at-bat worked out pretty well. Washington also could look to veterans Eric Thames, who is expected to share time at first base with Kendrick and Ryan Zimmerman, and Cabrera.
How will rosters be different? How will those changes affect the Nationals?
The most notable change for NL teams is the implementation of the DH.
Teams can invite 60 players to Major League camp, and that roster -- known as the "Player Pool" -- has to be submitted by 4 p.m. ET Sunday. In order to be eligible during the season, individuals must be included within the Player Pool.
The season will open with 30-man active rosters. Players not in that group will go to an Alternate Training Site, likely a nearby Minor League affiliate ballpark. The roster will be reduced to 28 players after two weeks, then to 26 players after four weeks. A 27th player can be added for doubleheaders.
Up to three Taxi Squad players can be carried on the road, and one must be a catcher if all three spots are being utilized. These players, who will be selected from the 60-man Player Pool, are options to replace injured or COVID-19 infected players.
With the expanded rosters, the Nationals could get a look at their pool of prospects or bubble players who had been vying for spots in Spring Training. All three pitchers who had been competing for the No. 5 starter role -- Fedde, Ross and Voth -- could be carried, with two in the bullpen.
Key dates for roster moves include the Trade Deadline on Aug. 31 and the cutoff for adding postseason-eligible players to the Major League roster on Sept. 15.
How can I watch the games?
Out-of-market Nationals games can be streamed LIVE on MLB.TV on your favorite supported devices.
How can I listen?
Every Nationals game can be heard LIVE online or on the go with MLB Audio.