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Hendricks outduels Strasburg as Cubs top Nats 3-0 in Game 1

Hendricks outduels Strasburg as Cubs top Nats 3-0 in Game 1

WASHINGTON  -- Kyle Hendricks goes about things completely differently than Stephen Strasburg does on the mound.

The kid from Dartmouth relies on a fastball that on a good day reaches 88 mph -- about 10 mph slower than Strasburg's -- and a deceptive changeup. Instead of power, he gets by on precision, guile and smarts.

Hendricks outpitched Strasburg in Game 1 of the NL Division Series, giving up only two hits in seven innings to help the Chicago Cubs open defense of their first World Series title in 108 years by beating the Washington Nationals 3-0 on Friday night.

"That's why we call him Professor," Chicago second baseman Javier Baez said about Hendricks. "He knows what he's doing."

Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo produced RBI singles with two outs in the sixth inning for the first two hits off an otherwise-dominant Strasburg. Rizzo added a run-scoring double in the eighth off Ryan Madson.

Carl Edwards Jr. threw a perfect inning and Wade Davis finished the two-hitter for a save.

Unlike No. 1 overall draft pick Strasburg, Hendricks went in the eighth round. Unlike Strasburg, Hendricks has never been an All-Star. Unlike Strasburg, who already has signed a $175 million, seven-year deal that begins next season, Hendricks earned less than $800,000 in 2017.

But this was Hendricks' time to shine.

"He was tricking us tonight," Nationals manager Dusty Baker said, "and seems like those kind of guys give us more trouble than guys who throw hard."

The slender righty, who led the NL in ERA last season, gave up a single in the first and another in the second -- and that was it for the Nationals.

He walked three batters and struck out six.

"He knows the scouting report," said Jon Lester, who starts Game 2 on Saturday for Chicago against fellow lefty Gio Gonzalez. "He knows where guys' weaknesses are."

Harper -- wearing shoes with "Pray for Las Vegas" written on the side following the recent mass shooting in his hometown -- was 1 for 4 as he tries to regain his timing after returning last week from a 42-game injury absence. Otherwise, Washington's elite hitters -- Anthony Rendon, Ryan Zimmerman, Daniel Murphy, Trea Turner and Jayson Werth -- were a combined 0 for 17 with three walks.

"Definitely, your confidence builds," Hendricks said, "when you start seeing those swings."

The fact that Hendricks approached 90 mph as often as he did was an aberration he and teammates attributed to adrenaline, but one that helped, of course.

He also knew he needed to be really good, because of what Strasburg was doing.

Strasburg didn't allow a hit until there were two outs in the sixth. Baez reached on Rendon's error at third base to start the inning and was sacrificed to second by Hendricks. One out later, Bryant drove in the first run with a single to right-center and went to second when Harper's throw missed the cutoff man.

Bryant, Rizzo said, managed to "get the monkey off the back in the dugout for all of us."

Rizzo followed by singling to right in front of a diving Harper to make it 2-0.

With a heavy beard and a lot of sweat on a muggy, 77-degree night, Strasburg dialed up his fastball to 98 mph and mixed in an unhittable changeup. To cheers of "Let's go, Strasburg!" from many in a sellout crowd of 43,898, he struck out 10 to set a playoff record for the Expos-Nationals franchise.

Strasburg wound up allowing just those two unearned runs in seven innings, with three hits and one walk.

"You're aware of it," Hendricks said about Strasburg. "You know how well he's throwing on the other side."

Hendricks threw well, too.

"It was," Cubs catcher Willson Contreras said, "a masterpiece."

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Max Scherzer Giving Away Memorabilia For Good Cause

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Max Scherzer Giving Away Memorabilia For Good Cause

By Ryan Wormeli

Max Scherzer is the ace of the Nationals staff, a fan favorite, and the 2017 National League Cy Young award winner. He's also a soon-to-be father whose wife, Erica May-Scherzer, once accidentally threw out the jersey he wore when throwing his 2nd career no-hitter. This time around, I'm guessing they talked it over first before deciding to sell some of his memorabilia garage-style for a new fundraiser.

We don't have any more information about the fundraiser yet, but May-Scherzer posted some photos on Twitter this afternoon. 

And in case you're wondering, no, the Scherzer family cat featured in one of the pictures isn't for sale (we assume). Plus, even if they were willing to part with their cat, considering Scherzer is on a contract worth over $200 Million, their price would probably be pretty steep. How much would you pay to adopt the cat of a 3-time Cy Young winner?

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Why Bryce Harper would be a bargain at $500 million

Why Bryce Harper would be a bargain at $500 million

$500 million.

That number is so hard to wrap your brain around, but it's a number a lot of professional baseball players may soon start seeing on their contracts.

One player who could be the first to see that amount within the next year is Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper.

Harper will become a free agent in 2018 and people are already projecting his market value at close to $500 million, if not more.

Miami Marlins right fielder Giancarlo Stanton signed a contract back in 2014 for 13 years, $325 million, holding the league record.

For Fancy Stats writer Neil Greenberg, $500 million is a bargain for someone of Harper's caliber.

"Harper is every bit as good [as Stanton] but he's also young," Greenberg told the Sports Junkies Friday.

"I mean, we don't see a player that's as good as Harper, that's as young a Harper, hit the market almost ever I want to say. You look at how many years of his prime he has left and then even if you start to give him just the typical aging curb off of that prime, he's probably worth close to 570 million dollars starting from 2019 and going forward ten years. And that includes also the price of free agency going up and other factors."

Harper, who is only 25 years-old, brings more to a team than just talent. He's one of the most recognizable figures in baseball, bringing tremendous marketing opportunities to an organization. Greenberg dove deeper into how that will increase his market value.

"And that's just for the on-the-field product. You talk about all the marketing that's done around Bryce Harper [and] what he does for the game. In my opinion, and based on the numbers that I saw, he's a bargain at $500 million."

Don't we all wish someone would say $500 million is a bargain for us?

After crunching the numbers, the biggest takeaway for Greenberg is the return on investment the Nationals have gotten out of Harper.

"Like if you look at his wins above replacement throughout his career, he's given you 200 million dollars in value for 21 million dollars in cash and he's due what another 26 or 27 million this year. I mean he's already given you an amazing return on investment."

"So, if you're the Nationals having - benefited from that - you know you have a little bit of, I guess, wiggle room in terms of maybe you're paying a little bit for past performance 'cause, you know, when a player is on arbitration in their early years they don't really get paid that much."

The Nationals still have Harper for one more season and many feel they need to make him an offer sooner than later. Whenever and whoever he gets an offer from, it's going to be a nice pay day for him.