Phillies vs Nationals: Home Opener Preview

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Jul 3, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Vince Velasquez (28) throws a pitch during the second inning against the Kansas City Royals at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 3, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Vince Velasquez (28) throws a pitch during the second inning against the Kansas City Royals at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Philadelphia Phillies wrapped up their first series of the season yesterday and will now head home for the first time for a three-game series against the Washington Nationals that begins on Friday night.

After an impressive victory on Opening Day, the Phillies dropped the final two games of the series in Cincinnati against the Reds.

Luckily for the team, they get to come home and play in front of the fans at Citizens Bank Park for the first time this season.

It will be Vince Velasquez who takes the mound for the Phillies this afternoon in the home opener.

He’ll be opposed on the mound by the reigning NL Cy Young Award winner, Max Scherzer. Scherzer is making his season debut this afternoon because of an adjusted spring training plan that stemmed from a finger injury he sustained in the offseason.

Pete Mackanin will have the same lineup on Friday afternoon that he used on Opening Day on Monday in Cincinnati.

The Phillies lineup will have a difficult task at the plate today as Scherzer is by far the best pitcher they will have faced to this point. Scherzer had the Phillies’ number in the five starts he made against the team last season, going 3-0 with a 2.02 ERA.

Philadelphia Phillies
Philadelphia Phillies /

Philadelphia Phillies

The benefit to that, however, is several members of the lineup having seen Scherzer more than enough times.

Odubel Herrera and Cesar Hernandez have both had some success against Scherzer. The two have hit close to .300 against the 32-year-old right-hander in 25 and 24 at-bats, respectively.

The Nationals hitters do not have a similar book on Velasquez.

No current Nationals hitters have more than three at-bats against the fire-balling right-hander.

Velasquez will still face a significant challenge as the Nationals have one of the best middle of the lineups in the National League as former MVP Bryce Harper and All-Star Daniel Murphy lead the way.

Many fans have been looking forward to Velasquez having an impressive season in 2017 after he showed off his potential in small bits last season.

Phillies experts and writers, like CSNPhilly’s Corey Seidman, also see Velasquez as a potential break-out candidate this season, mainly because he has the best stuff in the rotation.

Friday afternoon will be the first chance for Velasquez to prove he could be one of the main pieces of the team’s core going forward.

Next: Ryan Howard to Atlanta

First pitch for today’s game is set for 3:05 p.m. The game can be seen on MLB Network, and you can listen in on 94 WIP.

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