Game 127 lineups: Nats at Pirates

PITTSBURGH - OK, here’s the deal: The Nationals are scheduled to start their series finale against the Pirates at 7:05 p.m. They are then scheduled to fly to Chicago, where they are scheduled to start their series opener against the Cubs at 2:20 p.m. EDT Friday. That’s a tough turnaround, a really tough turnaround. And it’s even tougher when there’s rain in the forecast all evening. Which is exactly what’s in the forecast here this evening. (It already poured for about 45 minutes a little while ago.)

Anyways, for now we’ll assume the game is played without delay. And the biggest news, of course, is that Max Scherzer is returning from his latest stint on the injured list. Scherzer has pitched only once in the last seven weeks, and to their credit the Nationals have gone 23-15 during that span. Make no mistake, though: They need their ace the rest of the way. And they need him to pitch like his usual self.

Scherzer-Slings-Gray@PHI-sidebar.jpgThere’s going to be a pitch limit on Scherzer tonight. Davey Martinez hasn’t specifically given out a number, but it’s probably somewhere in the 80-to-85 range, based on the 64 pitches he threw in a simulated game five days ago. He certainly won’t be allowed to approach 100, no matter how well he pitches. But that could make for some good theater if Martinez has to forcibly take the ball from Scherzer at some point tonight.

A lineup that has scored double-digit runs in five of its last seven games goes up against Pirates lefty Steven Brault, who already has appeared in this series as a pinch-hitter and pinch-runner. The Nationals will load up with right-handed bats, including Brian Dozier, who returns from paternity leave. Adrián Sanchez was optioned to Double-A Harrisburg to clear a roster spot for him. Also, Kyle McGowin was optioned out to clear a roster spot for Scherzer.

WASHINGTON NATIONALS at PITTSBURGH PIRATES
Where: PNC Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN, MLB.tv
Radio: 106.7 FM, 1500 AM, MLB.com
Weather: Chance of rain, 72 degrees, wind 6 mph out to center field

NATIONALS (69-57)
SS Trea Turner
RF Adam Eaton
3B Anthony Rendon
LF Juan Soto
1B Howie Kendrick
C Kurt Suzuki
2B Brian Dozier
CF Victor Robles
RHP Max Scherzer

PIRATES (52-74)
2B Adam Frazier
LF Bryan Reynolds
CF Starling Marte
1B Josh Bell
3B Colin Moran
RF Melky Cabrera
SS Kevin Newman
C Elias Díaz
LHP Steven Brault

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