Nats opening day: Strasburg, Nolasco to start on the mound


Nationals veterans have fed off the youthful exuberance and skill set Stephen Strasburg, left, and Bryce Harper have brought to the team. (JOE SKIPPER/REUTERS)

The Washington Nationals’ season begins at 1:05 p.m. today against the Miami Marlins. After they were picked by both Sports Illustrated and ESPN to win this year’s World Series, the Nationals’ performance will be eagerly watched. See below for complete coverage from The Post.

Profile of manager Davey Johnson | Better with age

Johnson is expected to leave the Nationals after this season: “To be able to coach, you have to know where a person is coming from. What were the circumstances now and in the past that got them to this point in their life? It’s always a learning experience.”

A look at starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg | Finally ready to enjoy a normal season

There will be no limit on the number of innings Strasburg can pitch this season, now that he is fully recovered from his reconstructive elbow surgery: For all his talent and all the years he has been in the public eye, it’s easy to forget that Strasburg is only 24 with 45 career starts. This season is important to him, to prove that he is able to handle a full workload. He wants to pitch past the seventh inning in a major league game for the first time.

The Washington Post’s LaVar Arrington, Mike Wise, Liz Clarke, and Jonathan Forsythe predict whether the Nationals will exceed their MLB-best 98 wins in 2013. (Post Sports Live)

Thomas Boswell’s column | Embracing the expectations

All the talk about their promise doesn’t bother the team’s players: Asked about those dastardly expectations, Strasburg answered as the gifted tend to do — like the musician who lives to perform or the top student who relishes the exam he expects to crush.

“Obviously there’s a target on our backs. We need to stick together. We’ll have our ups and downs. . . . We’re in uncharted waters right now,” Strasburg said. “I’m excited. It’s a good test for us.”

Miami bullpen analysis | Pitching staff preview

Ricky Nolasco will start on the mound for the Marlins, whose pitching staff is full of journeymen: The Miami bullpen is led by side-armer Steve Cishek. At 6-foot-6, he’s in the middle of the Marlin reliever height spectrum, right alongside Ryan Webb. A.J. Ramos is 13 inches shorter than 6-foot-11 Jon Rauch. The lone lefty in the bullpen, Mike Dunn, is “just” an even six feet. Veterans John Maine and Chad Qualls round out the group, both at 6-foot-4.

Starting line-ups | The Nationals | The Marlins

What to expect, player by player | The best case and the worst case

Major league baseball scoreboard | More coverage

Max Ehrenfreund is a blogger on the Financial desk and writes for Know More and Wonkblog.
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