LEADING OFF: Scherzer starts for Nats, Stanton swings away
A look at what’s happening all around the majors today:
Max Scherzer begins his bid for a third straight NL Cy Young Award when he starts for Washington at Great American Ball Park. Opening day in Cincinnati was pushed back a day because of rain — the forecast calls for a dry afternoon with temperatures around 50 at game time. Homer Bailey is set to start for the Reds. The game will mark the major league managerial debut of Nationals skipper Dave Martinez.
Yankees fans are rooting for Giancarlo Stanton to provide an encore after his power-packed debut for New York. Stanton, who led the majors with 59 homers last year and was the NL MVP, hit two home runs and doubled in the opener at Toronto. Blue Jays righty Aaron Sanchez draws the assignment of trying to shut down Stanton, Aaron Judge and the Yanks. He posted an AL-best 3.00 ERA in 2016, but made just eight starts last season because of persistent blister issues.
GOING IN GAME TWO
After making three straight opening day starts for the Astros, Dallas Keuchel was bumped from the opener by Justin Verlander this year. Instead, the bearded left-hander will start Game 2 for Houston against the Rangers. Keuchel told reporters “he wasn’t happy by any means” when manager A.J. Hinch announced Verlander as his No. 1 starter, though he also conceded “the guy deserves it.” Verlander threw six shutout innings in a 4-1 win Thursday. Keuchel draws Texas right-hander Doug Fister, who signed a $4 million, one-year free agent deal in November.
IS PRICE RIGHT?
David Price makes his season debut against the Rays a day after Boston’s bullpen blew a 4-0 lead in a 6-4 loss. The Red Sox left-hander endured a frustrating 2017 season, with injuries limiting him to 74 2/3 innings. Price looked sharp this spring, posting a 2.25 ERA with 13 strikeouts in 12 innings. He’ll oppose hard-throwing lefty Blake Snell.
The Padres surprisingly announced hotshot prospect Joey Lucchesi would start in place of injured Dinelson Lamet, even though the left-hander has only pitched 60 1/3 innings at Double-A. The 24-year-old was a second-round pick in 2016 and went 11-7 with a 2.20 ERA between Class A and Double-A last season. Perhaps more importantly, he had a 1.54 ERA in four spring starts, making him a candidate for his debut when Lamet strained his right elbow Sunday.