The Nationals are loaded for 2015 and looking to make this the year in which they finally put everything together and win the World Series. The Mets are in the same National League East and might have enough young talent to disrupt Washington's plans.
On Monday, the pageantry of Opening Day in our nation's capital will include a ceremonial first pitch by new Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred and various ceremonies honoring the beginning of the season and the Nationals' 10-year anniversary in Washington.
But there will be a baseball game, and right away, fans in Nationals Park will get to see their glittering prize of a free agent signing, starter Max Scherzer, get the ball against Bartolo Colon and the Mets.
Scherzer, the 2013 American League Cy Young Award winner with the Tigers, signed a seven-year, $210 million contract to front what could be a historically formidable Washington rotation that also includes Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann, Doug Fister and Gio Gonzalez.
Scherzer gets the Opening Day nod for the first time in his career, and he said it'll be memorable but not more important than any other game when it comes to the standings.
"It's going to be real exciting," Scherzer said. "It's a great honor to start Opening Day -- especially for this club, especially on this staff. But at the end of the day, it's Game 1. We have 162 of these things. Hopefully, we play as well as we can the entire season."
The Nationals need to get healthy for that to happen. Third baseman Anthony Rendon has a sprained knee ligament and will open the season on the DL, and outfielders Jayson Werth and Denard Span are still coming back from injuries and might not be ready for Opening Day.
The Mets, meanwhile, will enter the season with high hopes for improvement while relying on a young core of pitching buoyed by the return from Tommy John surgery of phenom Matt Harvey. They lost right-hander Zack Wheeler to the same surgery, but they still have a durable rotation in place that includes 2014 NL Rookie of the Year Jacob deGrom, and they have exciting Minor Leaguers in Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz who could figure into things on the big league level at some point this season.
"We have a guy in our organization, and he's back and he's healthy, named Matt Harvey," manager Terry Collins said. "The middle of your lineup is going to be the key to any club. [Third baseman] David Wright being healthy, he's the key. I think a healthy David Wright's going to play well, and that's why I think this is the year for our team to step up."
It starts Monday with Colon on the mound against the team that many experts are picking to be baseball's best.
"It's always an honor to start on Opening Day," Colon said. "Anyone on the staff could have been named the Opening Day starter. I'm looking forward to it. I think we've got a chance to have a great season and I want to do my part."