• Nationals' 2017 regular-season schedule
Opponent: The Marlins and Nationals were almost evenly matched last season, with Washington winning 10 out of 19 games. Washington has had a tough time putting the brakes on slugger Giancarlo Stanton over the years. Stanton has a .304 batting average in 86 career games vs. the Nats, with 28 home runs and 65 RBIs -- his best totals against any team.
Before the 2017 season begins, look for Miami to acquire starting pitching. But, if the season started today, it would not be a surprise to see Tom Koehler get the Opening Day nod for the Marlins. Bryce Harper is 11-for-32 (.344) with six home runs and 11 RBIs in his career against the right-hander.
Opening Day starter: It will almost certainly be Max Scherzer for the third campaign in a row. He is already the best starting pitcher in Nationals history. It's not hard to figure out why: Scherzer has two no-hitters, one 20-strikeout game and a 20-win season under his belt.
Opening Day lineup: Using only players currently on the Nationals' roster, here is what the team's April 3 lineup could look like.
1. Trea Turner, CF
2. Jayson Werth, LF
3. Harper, RF
4. Daniel Murphy, 2B
5. Anthony Rendon, 3B
6. Ryan Zimmerman 1B
7. Danny Espinosa, SS
8. Pedro Severino, C
9. Scherzer, P
Three reasons to be excited:
1. Look for Harper to be a candidate for Comeback Player of the Year in 2017. After a great first month of the season in '16, Harper hit .235 with 15 home runs and 62 RBIs from May 1 to the end of the season.
2. A healthy Stephen Strasburg would give Washington a solid rotation. Everything was going so well for the right-hander until Sept. 7, when he strained his right flexor mass against the Braves. It ended his season, but he hasn't needed surgery to fix the problem. For now, rest will do the trick.
3. The Nationals will likely have a new starting catcher in 2017. With Wilson Ramos almost certain to exit as a free agent, Severino would be the leading candidate to take over behind the plate. It's easy to love Severino's energy, plus he even has speed on the bases. The question is, can he hit enough in the big leagues? Some scouts believe he needs to do better at hitting the breaking ball. On the other hand, it would not come as a surprise if the Nationals went after free agent Matt Wieters, who is a Scott Boras client.