Starting lineups: Nats vs. Phillies

And so, here we go again.

When last we saw the Nationals on the field playing against another team, their biggest concerns were whether the pitching staff would suffer from all the extra innings they threw during the postseason, whether Carter Kieboom deserved to start at third base, how much playing time Ryan Zimmerman would get and whether Joe Ross would win the No. 5 starter’s job.

Those are not their biggest concerns tonight as they take the field to face the Phillies in the first of three exhibition games before the delayed and modified 2020 season begins.

Tonight is about two things: 1) Getting guys closer to game-ready, and 2) Seeing how the extraordinary new health protocols actually work when applied to a baseball game between two teams. There are far greater questions and concerns about the latter than the former.

Soto-High-Fives-Cabrera-White-Sidebar.jpgFrom a baseball standpoint, Max Scherzer will need to use this game as a final tune-up for his opening night start against the Yankees. He’s hoping to pitch five innings and throw 75 or more pitches. The lineup features a whole lot of familiar names, including Juan Soto (batting cleanup) and Howie Kendrick (batting fifth, serving as DH). It does include Asdrúbal Cabrera at third base, not Kieboom, which is somewhat interesting. It is still missing Victor Robles, who has not yet appeared at Nationals Park this summer.

That lineup will be facing Phillies ace Aaron Nola, a good challenge as everyone prepares for Gerrit Cole in five days. And Scherzer and Co. will be facing none other than Bryce Harper, the anchor of Philly’s lineup. (Will the Nationals Park sound system folks play artificial boos when he comes up to bat?)

PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES at WASHINGTON NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 6:05 p.m. EDT
TV: None
Radio: 106.7 FM, MLB.com
Weather: Partly cloudy, 95 degrees, wind 5 mph in from right field

NATIONALS
SS Trea Turner
RF Adam Eaton
2B Starlin Castro
LF Juan Soto
DH Howie Kendrick
1B Eric Thames
3B Asdrúbal Cabrera
C Kurt Suzuki
CF Michael A. Taylor

RHP Max Scherzer

PHILLIES
LF Andrew McCutchen
CF Roman Quinn
RF Bryce Harper
1B Rhys Hoskins
SS Didi Gregorius
3B Jean Segura
DH Jay Bruce
2B Scott Kingery
C Andrew Knapp

RHP Aaron Nola

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