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Syndergaard dominates as Scherzer, Nats fall to Mets in series opener

Syndergaard dominates as Scherzer, Nats fall to Mets in series opener

Postgame analysis of the Nats' 2-0 loss to the New York Mets on Tuesday night at Citi Field.

How it happened: Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard can be a chore for any opposing lineup with his 100 mile per hour heater, a swooping curveball once dubbed the 'Hook from Hell' and a changeup that dives over the plate at a speed some pitchers envy for their fastball. The 6-foot-6 flamethrower is as tough a pitcher to face as there is on the planet and that can be an especially difficult task when more than half the players in your lineup are searching for their swing. Nats manager Dusty Baker even swapped Anthony Rendon and Jayson Werth in the Nats' order in hopes of an offensive spark before Tuesday's game. Maybe it would have worked against another pitcher, but not Syndergaard.

The man they call 'Thor' decimated the Nationals lineup with power and precision. Only five Nationals players got hits off of him and only Ryan Zimmerman earned more than a single. The Mets ace struck out an easy 10 through seven innings with no runs or walks allowed. Pure domination. You can see why Bryce Harper wants him on Team USA for the World Baseball Classic.

Max Scherzer wasn't sharp and gave up multiple homers for the third straight outing, yet he only allowed two earned runs in total. Most nights that would be enough, but not against Syndergaard, as the Nats fell 2-0 in the series opener in New York on Tuesday night.

What it means: The Nationals dropped the first of their head-to-head matchups with the Mets and will of course hope for better luck in the second leg of this series on Wednesday. The opener brought the Mets within a half-game of first place in the NL East with the Nats nursing a small lead at 23-16 with the Mets sitting at 22-16.

More homers for Scherzer: As mentioned in the intro, Scherzer wasn't bad on Tuesday night. In fact, he struck out 10 batters to tie Corey Kluber for the record among active pitchers for strikeouts in a two-game span. With 20 in his previous outing, Scherzer punched out 30 batters across two games. That's impressive. But, as we've seen so many times lately, Scherzer struggled particularly with keeping balls in the park. He allowed two more homers on Tuesday and has now given up multiple homers in three consecutive outings and in 11 of his last 25 starts overall. The right-hander has spoken time and time again about how he needs to make a mechanical adjustment to eliminate the homers. For a while it seemed like Scherzer knew what was wrong, it was just a matter of fixing it. At this point he has to be pretty lost as he searches for an answer.

Nats offense keeps scuffling: The Nats were shut out on Tuesday and have now scored just two total runs in their last three games. They have one run in their last two games and that was on Zimmerman's inside-the-park homer against the Marlins on Sunday that probably should have been a double. The Nats' trouble scoring runs is a big reason they are now 7-9 in the month of May. Also, this team needs to figure out a way to get to Syndergaard. Through four career starts against Washington, he now holds a 1.33 ERA (4 ER, 27 IP) with 30 strikeouts. He's good against everybody, but is especially lethal when facing the Nats.

Zimmerman doubles: How about that one, solitary extra-base hit the Nats got off Syndergaard? Let's go glass half-full for a moment. Zimmerman's second inning double to left-center field was his only hit of the night, but it was part of a positive trend for the Nats first baseman. He now has six doubles in 14 games this month after only landing three in the 19 games he played in April. 

Murphy hits again: Murphy also had just one hit, but it was an impressive one all things considered. In the top of the fourth with two outs, and after Harper had gone down looking at a 100 mile per hour fastball on the inside of the plate, Murphy notched a bloop single to right field off Syndergaard. And to do so, he had to turn on a 100 mph heater thrown just inches from his hands. It was that kind of night for the Nats, who had to scrape and claw for the few positive moments on offense they were permitted.

What's next: The Nationals continue their series at the Mets with Gio Gonzalez (2-1, 1.93) and Colon (3-2, 3.53) set to start.

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

Its 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