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Nats wait out rain, top Mets in Giolito's shortened debut

Nats wait out rain, top Mets in Giolito's shortened debut

Postgame analysis of the Nationals' 5-0 win over the New York Mets on Tuesday night at Nats Park. 

How it happened: After a 55-minute rain delay pushed back the start of the game, all eyes were on 21-year-old Lucas Giolito — arguably the top pitching prospect in the game — as he made his much-anticipated major league debut. He took to the mound at Nats Park to thunderous cheers, and after the long wait, it was time to see what the much ballyhooed youngster could do.

And would he perform in his first start in The Show? Quite well, actually — until Mother Nature decided to send another round of storms that unfortunately cut his outing short. The game was delayed again, this time for 85 minutes, after Giolito had pitched four shutout innings. The long break meant Dusty Baker had no choice but turn things over with long reliever Yusmeiro Petit when things resumed. 

In the fifth inning, Bryce Harper launched his 16th home run of the season, a liner that landed into the Nats' bullpen that extended the lead to 3-0. Two innings later, Wilson Ramos drove a double off the centerfield wall to drive in two more to make it 5-0. 

The bullpen locked things down from there, and the Nats came away with the victory. 

What it means: It took a while —five hours and eight minutes, to be exact —but Tuesday's win clinched the Nats' second series victory over the Mets this season. The win puts them at 46-32 and 4 1/2 in front of the Miami Marlins for first place in the NL East. 

The game also meant that, thanks to the rain delay, Giolito wouldn't be given a chance to earn a win. The question now becomes is the Nats decide to keep him around for at least one more start. Given how well he performed in his short debut, it wouldn't surprise anyone if the Nats opted to give him another chance. 

Giolito's shorted debutWhen the weather was cooperating, the Nats’ phenom was impressive in his first major league start. He threw allowed just one hit in four shutout innings, striking out one and walking two on 45 pitches. His fastball was clocked in the mid-90s and his breaking pitches were anywhere from 79 to 82 mph. He appeared increasingly comfortable on the mound, so it's a real shame that the fans who came to watch him at Nats Park didn't get to see a full outing. 

Harper in April form: For much of the last year, the sight of Bryce Harper depositing a pitch into the right field bullpen at Nats Park became mostly routine. But believe it or not, his fifth-inning blast on Tuesday night was the first time he'd hit a long ball at home in exactly a month. Granted, the reigning NL MVP hasn't hit many home runs anywhere since his extended slump began in early May. But an optimist would note that he went 2-for-4 with two extra-base hits — a first for him since April 23 —and has now homered three times in the last 12 days, so perhaps another barrage could be on the horizon. 

Up next: The Nats will catch a bit of a break on Wednesday, as the Mets' scheduled starter Steven Matz was scratched in favor of Logan Verrett (3-4, 4.14 ERA). Washington will send Max Scherzer (8-5, 3.52 ERA) to the mound to try and secure the sweep.

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It's Day 1 of spring training and Bryce Harper is already done taking questions regarding his future

It's Day 1 of spring training and Bryce Harper is already done taking questions regarding his future

So if you have not heard, Bryce Harper is going to be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2018 season.

All off-season talking heads, baseball aficionados, radio hosts, etc. were speculating on where the outfielder’s destination will be next year.

And we are still a year away from it actually happening.

RELATED: VEGAS SETS OVER/UNDERS FOR 2018 MLB SEASON

Reporting to spring training on Monday, Harper did not waste any time telling the media how his press conferences were going to play out this season.

“If guys do [ask], or talk anything about that, I will be walking right out the door.”

Entering his seventh season with the Washington Nationals, the 25-year-old is coming off the second-best season, statistically, of his career. The 2015 NL MVP has hit .285 in his career, with 150 home runs and 421 RBIs. Unquestionably he is the face of the Nationals’ organization, if not, the best player in the team’s history.

If he does end the season without a contract extension, he will join Rafael Palmeiro, Alex Rodriguez, Randy Johnson, and Barry Bonds as the top sought out free agents in MLB history.

One thing is for certain in terms of Harper’s free agency; Harper has given no inclination on where his landing spot will be.  The top three cities are of course his favorite childhood team, the New York Yankees; joining with one of his closest friends with the Chicago Cubs; or just staying with Washington.

Wherever he does land, it does appear that it will be the largest contract given to a free agent ever.

As for now we just wait and direct any of your calls to his agent Scott Boras.

READ ALSO: NATIONALS FULL SPRING TRAINING SCHEDULE

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Nationals Spring Training Schedule 2018

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USA Today Sports Images

Nationals Spring Training Schedule 2018

Now that pitchers and catchers have reported, the next step in our long journey to Opening Day is the spring training games themselves. Not every game is televised, so get ready to follow along with your favorite beat writer's Twitter account for all your updates.

Even without getting to watch the games, it'll still be exciting to once again check box scores in the morning to see if Bryce Harper homered again, or if Max Scherzer is perfect through 4 innings (spoiler: both of these will happen).

This year's spring training will be especially interesting, considering how many big-name players will be signing contracts in the next few weeks. The Nats are always willing to make a big splash, and even beyond the available free agents, have been linked to impact players like J.T. Realmuto in trade rumors.

Typically, the excitement of adding a new piece to the roster has to be reignited after a long winter off, but this season, those additions will be happening while camp is already underway.

It's going to be a hectic few weeks as teams prepare for their seasons, so bookmark this page to check on the Nationals spring training schedule over the next few weeks as the team finally takes the field in 2018.

Nationals 2018 Spring Training Schedule

Friday, Feb. 23 - Nationals at Astros, 1:05 pm (MLBN)
Saturday, Feb. 24 - Nationals at Marlins, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Feb. 25 - Braves at Nationals, 1:05 pm (MASN)
Monday, Feb. 26 - Nationals at Braves, 1:05 pm
Tuesday, Feb. 27 - Marlins at Nationals, 1:05 pm
Wednesday, Feb. 28 - Nationals at Marlins, 1:05 pm
Thursday, Mar. 1 (SS) - Nationals at Braves, 1:05 pm
Friday, Mar. 2 (SS) - Nationals at Mets, 1:10 pm
Saturday, Mar. 3 - Nationals at Astros, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Mar. 4 (SS) - Tigers at Nationals, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Mar. 4 (SS) - Nationals at Mets, 1:10 pm
Monday, Mar. 5 - Nationals at Cardinals, 1:05 pm
Tuesday, Mar. 6 (SS) - Astros at Nationals, 1:05 pm (MASN)
Wednesday, Mar. 7 - Nationals at Cardinals, 1:05 pm
Thursday, Mar. 8 - Mets at Nationals, 1:05 pm
Saturday, Mar. 10 - Nationals at Astros, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Mar. 11 - Cardinals at Nationals, 1:05 pm (MASN)
Monday, Mar. 12 - Nationals at Tigers, 1:05 pm (MLBN)
Tuesday, Mar. 13 (SS) - Mets at Nationals, 7:05 pm (MLBN) (MASN)
Thursday, Mar. 15 - Astros at Nationals, 1:05 pm
Friday, Mar. 16 (SS) - Cardinals at Nationals, 1:05 pm (MASN)
Saturday, Mar. 17 - Mets at Nationals, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Mar. 18 - Nationals at Cardinals, 1:05 pm
Monday, Mar. 19 - Nationals at Marlins, 1:05 pm
Tuesday, Mar. 20 - Marlins at Nationals, 1:05 pm
Wednesday, Mar. 21 - Astros at Nationals, 1:05 pm (ESPN2) (MASN)
Thursday, Mar. 22 - Nationals at Mets, 6:10 pm
Friday, Mar. 23 (SS) - Astros at Nationals, 6:05 pm (MASN)
Friday, Mar. 23 - Nationals at Marlins, 7:05 pm
Saturday, Mar. 24 - Marlins at Nationals, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Mar. 25 - Cardinals at Nationals, 1:05 pm (MLBN)
Tuesday, Mar. 27 (at Nationals Park) - Twins at Nationals, 4:05 pm