VIERA, Fla. -- The Nationals are in their fifth week of Spring Training, and manager Dusty Baker hasn't officially named his Opening Day starter for April 4 against the Braves in Atlanta, although he hinted once again that it would be right-hander Max Scherzer.Asked before Sunday's 4-4 tie with the
VIERA, Fla. -- The Nationals are in their fifth week of Spring Training, and manager Dusty Baker hasn't officially named his Opening Day starter for April 4 against the Braves in Atlanta, although he hinted once again that it would be right-hander Max Scherzer.
Asked before Sunday's 4-4 tie with the Cardinals if he would name his Opening Day starter, Baker replied, "[Scherzer] was Opening Day when I got here. You just want me to name him."
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Once it becomes official, it would mark the second straight season-opening start for Scherzer. He lost the first game last season to the Mets at Nationals Park. Last year, Scherzer was clearly the Nats' ace. He led the team in wins (14), strikeouts (276) and ERA (2.79). On Oct. 3, he pitched a no-hitter against the Mets at Citi Field, becoming the sixth pitcher to throw two in a season. Scherzer had a Nationals-record 17 strikeouts, which tied Nolan Ryan for the most in any no-hitter and set the record for the most strikeouts in a no-hit, no-walk game.
Scherzer's first no-hitter came June 20 against the Pirates at Nationals Park. In that outing, Scherzer struck out 10 while posting his second consecutive shutout. He lost a perfect game with two outs in the ninth when he hit pinch-hitter Jose Tabata on the elbow on a 2-2 count.
"He comes to pitch," Baker said about Scherzer. "I watched him on TV last year. I like guys who have a chance to throw a no-hitter almost every time out. That's how it is."
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats.