Nationals prospect A.J. Cole will make his MLB debut in place of injured Max Scherzer

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Nationals right-hander and top-100 prospect A.J. Cole will be called up today to make his MLB debut starting in place of the injured Max Scherzer.

Cole was originally the Nationals’ fourth-round draft pick in 2010, but Washington traded him to Oakland in the Gio Gonzalez deal only to reacquire him in the three-team swap that sent Michael Morse to Seattle.

In calling up Cole for his debut the Nationals bypassed Tanner Roark, who started 32 games with a 2.85 ERA last season before being bumped to the bullpen by Scherzer’s arrival. For now the team is hoping that Scherzer will only miss one start with a thumb injury and Roark likely would have been limited to fewer than 75 pitches, so manager Matt Williams opted for the hard-throwing 23-year-old Cole versus Atlanta.

Cole has a 3.23 ERA and 60/18 K/BB ratio in 78 innings at Triple-A, including 11 starts there last season and three starts there this year.

Anthems, first pitches and other ceremonial stuff

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The World Series is not just about the baseball. It’s about the bigger-than-usual stars singing the National Anthem, the more-famous-than-usual people throwing out the first pitch and all of the assorted to-do which surrounds the ballgames. Here is that sort of stuff for Game 1 and Game 2 in Boston.

First pitches:

  • Carl Yastrzemski will throw out the ceremonial first pitch for Game 1. Yastrzemski also threw out the first pitch of Game 1 in 2004, 2007 and 2013. The Red Sox won each of those games and each of those World Series so, yeah, go with what works, right?
  • Members of the 2004 World Series Champions will throw the ceremonial first pitch of Game 2. It doesn’t say which members, so maybe my dream of Manny Ramirez doing it will work out after all. Hey, he played for the Dodgers too, so let’s make this happen, OK?

National Anthems:

  • Singer-songwriter James Taylor will perform the National Anthem prior to the start of Game 1. This morning Peter Gammons tweeted that Taylor’s family helped build Fenway Park. Let’s file that under “interesting, but not so interesting that it’s really worth tracking down to confirm, so why not believe it?” Sweet dreams and flying machines in pieces on the ground.
  • For Game 2 the National Anthem will be performed by the Boston Pops, with the Tanglewood Chorus and the Boston Symphony Children’s Chorus doing the singing. The Boston Pops are conducted by Keith Lockhart, who was a career .287/.354/.425 hitter in 37 postseason games with the Atlanta Braves. I mean, at least I’m pretty sure it’s the same Keith Lockhart. Again: not interesting enough to check so, like Gammons’ thing about James Taylor, let’s assume I’m right about this.

Play ball.