The Pirates-Giants game is EXACTLY what we want from instant replay

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I love ESPN’s David Schoenfield — he’s been one of my favorite baseball writers for years and years — but I think he’s off the mark on his post from last night about the end of the Pirates-Giants game that ended with a walkoff instant replay ruling:

Here’s what I’m thinking after the end of the Giants-Pirates game that ended with Starling Marte called out at home plate and then called safe, giving the Pirates the not-so-dramatic walk-off reversal: Isn’t this exactly how we don’t want games to end? With a committee meeting?

I don’t like the flow interruption of replay challenges any more than Schoenfield does, but isn’t the entire point to get the calls right? And, even if those committee meetings can be grating on a random out call in the third inning, shouldn’t we have more tolerance for them — hell, even infinite tolerance for them — on calls that literally decide the game like the one in the Pirates-Giants game?

Indeed, one of the biggest blown calls of the past few years — a call that helped fuel the fire of instant replay as much as anything else — came on just such a call. What’s more, it came in a Pirates game! It even made the national news:

I’m all for nitpicking the mechanics of replay and sighing heavily at manager challenges, committee meetings and the like. But a game-deciding call like this is exactly the thing for which we want instant replay. If it postpones the Pirates’ celebration by a minute or two or, even worse, prevents a game that should be over from going on into extra innings, well, good.

Stephen Strasburg is the Nationals’ Opening Day starter

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Nationals’ right-hander Stephen Strasburg will take the mound for the club on Opening Day, manager Dusty Baker said on Sunday. The news is hardly surprising given Max Scherzer’s questionable status this spring, though it had yet to be confirmed by the club.

Strasburg is approaching his eighth run with the club in 2017. He went 15-4 in 2016, finishing the year with a 3.60 ERA, 2.7 BB/9 and 11.2 SO/9 in 147 2/3 innings. This will mark his fourth Opening Day assignment with the Nationals.

Scherzer, the Nationals’ Opening Day starter in both 2015 and 2016, is scheduled to make his season debut sometime during the first week of the season. The right-hander is expected to take things more slowly this spring as he finishes rehabbing a stress fracture in his finger.

The Nationals will open their season against the Marlins on April 3.

Steven Matz to skip next spring training start with elbow issues

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Mets’ left-hander Steven Matz will miss his Grapefruit League appearance on Monday after experiencing soreness in his left elbow, according to a report by Mike Puma of the New York Post. Matz reportedly first felt discomfort in his elbow on Wednesday after pitching four innings against the Marlins, but a medical evaluation revealed no structural damage.

Still, it’s unsettling news for the 25-year-old, who is coming off of an injury-riddled 2016 season. Matz pitched to a 3.40 ERA, 2.1 BB/9 and 8.8 SO/9 during his sophomore campaign with the Mets, but his success was hampered by a bevy of shoulder and elbow issues that culminated in season-ending surgery to remove bone spurs from his left elbow.

Comments from Mets’ GM Sandy Alderson indicated that while the club doesn’t believe anything is significantly wrong with Matz’s elbow this time around, the setback could have an impact on his chances of cracking the Opening Day roster. Until he’s cleared to return to the mound, the club is expected to take a longer look at rotation candidates Robert Gsellman, Zack Wheeler and Seth Lugo.