- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 31, 2019

Max Scherzer will take the mound Tuesday when Bryce Harper returns to Nationals Park for the first time with the Philadelphia Phillies, but the Nationals insist Scherzer’s start has nothing to do with their former slugger.

This season, Washington has kept Scherzer on a five-day schedule, meaning the 34-year-old starts on every fifth day. The Nationals have a number of off days early on, so they want to keep Scherzer on his normal rhythm.

Scherzer will start instead of Anibal Sanchez, who will make his debut on Wednesday.

Manager Dave Martinez said there’s no concern of wearing Scherzer out. In his season debut, Scherzer threw 109 pitches, allowed two runs and two hits in 7 ⅔ innings in a loss to the New York Mets on opening day.

“That’s what he builds himself for,” Martinez said. “He’s had a long spring training. He got to spring training Jan. 2. So he builds himself up to be ready to throw 110 pitches, day one. And that’s who he is, the day after the game is when I typically talk to him and see how he’s feeling. He said he felt really, really good so he’ll be ready for his next start.”



Before Sunday’s game against the Mets, Scherzer said facing the Phillies will be “fun,” noting their lineup has dangerous hitters from the right and the left side. In addition to signing Harper to a 13-year, $330 million contract, Philadelphia added shortstop Jean Segura, catcher J.T. Realmuto and outfielder Andrew McCutchen — all of whom have been All-Stars —this offseason.

Already through two games, the Phillies have already hit six home runs and are third in runs per game.

But the attention will be on Harper, who has made a quick impression in Philadelphia. The 26-year-old slugged his first home run in a Phillies uniform Saturday — sending a pitch deep into right field in an 8-6 win.

Scherzer said he views this matchup as the first of many times he’ll face Harper for the rest of their careers.

“He’ll be there forever, Scherzer said. “Or at least forever in my career. We’re going to be facing each other a lot. This is just the first. Whatever happens on Tuesday, it’s going to be the course of a career of facing him. This is just Round 1.”

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