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5 biggest matchups to watch on the Nationals’ 2020 schedule

5 biggest matchups to watch on the Nationals’ 2020 schedule

A schedule has been released, but there’s still no guarantee that a 2020 MLB season will be played.

Putting on a professional sports season amid the coronavirus pandemic will be no small feat, and there are still plenty of health concerns surrounding MLB’s ability to pull it off.

However, fans should still allow themselves to get excited for what has the potential to be a unique and exciting 60-game MLB season. Perhaps no fans are more excited than those of the World Series champion Nationals, who will have their chance to defend their first title in franchise history.

Here are five series for Nationals fans to look forward to once baseball finally does return.

Yankees vs. Nationals: July 23-26

The Nationals will play the Yankees in the primetime slot of Opening Night, setting the stage for a World Series Game 1 rematch between Max Scherzer and Gerrit Cole.

It’s just about as exciting a matchup as the league will see in 2020. Juan Soto, Gleyber Torres, Trea Turner, Aaron Judge, Stephen Strasburg and Gary Sanchez all sharing the same field should provide baseball fans with plenty of fireworks to kick off the season.

RELATED: SEE THE NATIONALS' FULL 2020 SCHEDULE HERE

Mets vs. Nationals: Aug. 4-5

Washington will open NL East play on July 31 against the Marlins, but their first taste of divisional play against a real contender will come against the Mets on Aug. 4.

The contest will be the first of only 10 games between the two teams this season, who will also play each other in the final series of the year Sept. 24-27. Every win matters, so there will be as much of playoff intensity as possible without fans in the stands.

Phillies vs. Nationals: Aug. 25-27

As will be the case every season for the next 12 years, one of the most-anticipated matchups on the Nationals schedule will be their first game against Bryce Harper and the Phillies.

Philadelphia may be coming off a disappointing 81-81 season, but the team has a playoff hopes and certainly poses a threat in a 60-game season where even teams with an outside shot in a normal year have a chance at going on a run and making the postseason.

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Rays vs. Nationals: Sept. 7-8, 15-16

The Nationals will play a pair of home/away two-game series against the Rays to finish off their interleague schedule in September.

Tampa Bay finished last season with 96 wins and a spot in the AL Wild Card Game before pushing the Astros to five games in the ALDS. With a deep bullpen and plenty of home-run hitters up and down their lineup, the Rays are the Nationals’ toughest AL East opponent outside New York.

Nationals vs. Braves: Sept. 10-13

The two representatives of the NL East to make the playoffs last season, the Nationals and Braves will finish off their season series with a four-game set in September.

Atlanta may have won the division last season, but the Nationals hold the title of the NL East’s best team after their improbable playoff run. With the Braves looking to show its their turn at the top, the season series between these two teams is likely to be one of the closest in all of baseball.

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WATCH: Juan Soto cranks 463-foot monster home run at Citi Field

WATCH: Juan Soto cranks 463-foot monster home run at Citi Field

After scoring just a total of six runs combined in their last three (and a half) games, the Washington Nationals appear to be breaking out of their offensive slump in a huge way.

Through three innings against the New York Mets on Monday evening, the team scored five runs on three home runs with the last as an exclamation mark.

RELATED: NATIONALS OFF TO THE ROAD, SEASON'S MOST DANGEROUS SPOT

After Asdrubal Cabrera’s solo shot off of Steven Matz in the second, Trea Turner hit a two-run homer in the third. Juan Soto followed Turner three batters later with a two-run bomb that traveled distances rarely seen at Citi Field. According to Statcast, Soto’s home run was 463 feet.

How impressive was Soto’s rocket? According to Wall Street Journal baseball writer Jared Diamond, it’s the third-farthest hit ball at Citi Field in the Statcast era (since 2015). Only Kyle Schwarber (467 ft) and Freddie Freeman (464 ft) had longer home runs.

Soto’s home run is also longer than any hit by a Mets player at Citi Field in the Statcast era. According to Diamond, the farthest home run hit by a Mets player is 458 feet by Pete Alonso last June.

The Nationals’ bats didn’t cool off there, either. They were up 12-0 on their NL East division foe, after a seven-run fifth inning. Hopefully for Nats fans, this is a sign of things to come as the team attempts to climb out of a 4-7 start to the season.

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Mets pitcher Marcus Stroman opts out of remainder of 2020 MLB season

Mets pitcher Marcus Stroman opts out of remainder of 2020 MLB season

Mets starting pitcher Marcus Stroman has opted out of the remainder of the 2020 Major League Baseball season. He took to Twitter to share his statement. 

Stroman hasn't pitched a game yet this season due to a strained calf he suffered in camp. The right-handed pitcher cited family concerns with coronavirus. 

The Mets traded two minor league pitchers for Stroman's services last July. In return, New York got 11 starts out of him as he heads to be a free agent for the first time in his career this offseason. Though it's possible Stroman's time as a Met is now finished, there's still a chance the Mets can extend his deal with a qualifying offer this winter. 

One more glance at Stroman's Twitter statement, however, and it's easy to see that he made sure not to mince words in his conclusion as he's looking forward to returning to "baseball" next season, not the Mets. 

Either way, it's a tough blow for a Mets organization that surprisingly swooped in for Stroman last summer in the first place. 

Although Stroman would have been out on the injured reserve list anyways for the Mets-Nationals three-game series set for tonight, Washington fans will surely be relieved the Nats won't have to hit against the talented pitcher. 

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