Nationals

Quick Links

Justin Verlander scratched from start in World Series rematch vs. Nationals

Justin Verlander scratched from start in World Series rematch vs. Nationals

One of the highly anticipated spring training games of the year will be without one of the biggest stars of the sport. 

Justin Verlander has been scratched from his start for when the Houston Astros play the Washington Nationals on Thursday.

It was set to be a World Series rematch between the two clubs as Verlander was scheduled to pitch against Max Scherzer in the battle of the respective clubs' aces. Somehow the two former teammates never managed to pitch against one another during last season's world championship.

'Groin discomfort' is said to be the cause for Verlander missing his first on-field action of the spring. Instead, he will throw a simulated game, Dusty Baker told the Houston Chronicle's Chandler Rome

This is the second scheduled spring training game between the two teams. In the game that opened the Grapefruit League between Houston and Washington, none of the Astros' regulars participated. However, that did not stop fans from showing their disdain

The remaining line-ups for both squads will likely not be announced until Thursday morning. 

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports. Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream Capitals and Wizards games easily from your device.

MORE NATIONALS NEWS:

Quick Links

Remembering the roller coaster of emotions that was Bryce Harper's return to DC

Remembering the roller coaster of emotions that was Bryce Harper's return to DC

Over the course of his seven-year stint in the nation’s capital, Bryce Harper stepped to the plate 1,994 times at the Nationals’ home ballpark. The D.C. faithful cheered him on each time, hoping the at-bat they were about to see was going to produce something special.

That 1,995th time, however, was different. When Harper arrived at Nationals Park on April 2, 2019, he was no longer the face of their franchise. He was the $330 million prized offseason addition of the Philadelphia Phillies, an NL East rival looking to climb back into contention following a lengthy rebuild.

Harper stepped to the plate in the top of the first faced the with the challenge of batting against former teammate and three-time Cy Young winner Max Scherzer. It was unclear what to expect of a Nationals Park crowd that included a throng of Phillies fans in center field, but there was no confusion as to whether Harper was treated to jeers or cheers when his name was called.

The former NL MVP worked the count to 2-2 against Scherzer before striking out swinging on a changeup to electrify the Nationals Park crowd.

Other than another Harper strikeout, however, there would be little else that Nationals fans would cheer about that evening. The Phillies broke open a 5-0 lead against Washington’s bullpen before Harper hit an RBI single for his first career hit against the Nationals.

The home team would put two runs on the board to get within striking distance, but Harper had the last laugh that night after he put the game away with a 458-foot homer off Jeremy Hellickson before taking the time to toss a spinning bat flip at the Nationals’ home dugout.

Of course, the Nationals were really the ones who had the last laugh after they eliminated the Phillies from playoff contention with a five-game sweep in September before making a miracle run to their first World Series win in franchise history.

As for the Phillies, well, they have 12 more years with Harper to try and top that.

Stay connected to the Capitals and Wizards with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.

MORE NATIONALS NEWS:

Quick Links

MLB not extending suspensions for former Astros A.J. Hinch, Jeff Luhnow is in line with past moves

MLB not extending suspensions for former Astros A.J. Hinch, Jeff Luhnow is in line with past moves

The baseball season’s delay postponed games as well as booing.

Houston was bracing for a grouse-filled season as baseball’s top enemy. The title is usually reserved for the brash, arrogant or well-off (meaning the Yankees). Instead, the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal flipped them from model franchise to convicted cheaters. They would be the target of universal vitriol outside of Minute Maid Park. The level of booing would only vary based on location.

Former Houston general manager Jeff Luhnow and manager A.J. Hinch would be forced to watch the anger-filled tour from afar. Major League Baseball suspended both for a year following its investigation into the organization’s sign-stealing scheme. The duo’s season was over before everyone else’s was delayed.

Thursday, ESPN reported those year-long suspensions would not be bumped until next season -- no matter length of delay this year. Luhnow and Hinch are off the league’s hook following the 2020 World Series. If there is no such event, they will be done regardless. This makes sense.

Why? It’s generally understandable. Baseball also had little choice.

When the Major League Baseball Players Association agreed to a deal with MLB in order to set baseline parameters for what would come in a shortened season, service time was the paramount issue. Players wanted their clocks to run. Nothing matters more to their finances. Juan Soto would gain another year toward becoming a future free agent. Moving the young players up in baseball’s drawn-out contractual process was crucial. But, much of this hinged on a single player: Mookie Betts.

Betts was traded in the offseason from Boston to Los Angeles because the Red Sox decided they did not want to pay one of the game’s great talents now or after the 2020 season, when he can become a free agent. Betts can be an unrestricted, 28-year-old, former-MVP free agent this winter. If he wasn’t allowed into free agency via his clock moving, not only would he personally be damaged, but the Dodgers may have received a year-plus of his work when they otherwise wouldn’t.

So, the players demanded their service time numbers move with or without a season. Their give was to prorate their salaries. That pushed everything into motion for the agreement.

It also means Luhnow and Hinch can’t suddenly receive disparate treatment. The season is going to be treated as if it exists, even if it does not. That idea extends to everyone, even the suspended cheaters.

Stay connected to the Capitals and Wizards with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.

MORE NATIONALS NEWS: