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Max Scherzer confident heading into Game 3

Max Scherzer confident heading into Game 3

CHICAGO -- During the Washington Nationals' first two postseason games against the Chicago Cubs, star pitcher Max Scherzer has been relegated to the role of observer, unable to take an active role.

But after two days of "champing at the bit" to take the mound Monday as the deadlocked best-of-five National League Division series shifts to Wrigley Field, Scherzer is confident he can give the Nationals everything they've come to expect from their ace.

Scherzer hasn't pitched since Sept. 30 when he left his final regular-season start with what he referred to at the time as a "small tweak" in his right hamstring. The reigning National League Cy Young winner was scheduled to pitch Game 1 against the Cubs, but was pushed back to Game 3 to provide him extra time to build more strength and endurance in his hamstring.

In recent days, Scherzer has worked with team trainers to get his hamstring as close to 100 percent in order to give him every chance to work as long as Washington needs in Monday's pivotal Game 3.

"I'm very confident as soon as I toe the rubber, I'm going to be good on pitch one," Scherzer said Sunday. "It's (about) how long can I go without re-injuring this and that's where we've done everything we can to make sure I can throw 100 pitches and not have this happen.

"When I'm on the mound (Monday), I'm fully anticipating being able to throw 100 pitches."

Scherzer won his only start against the Cubs this season and is 3-1 in six career starts against Chicago.

Nationals manager Dusty Baker said he's not concerned about Scherzer, but said he will keep a keen eye on any signals that might be telling in how the right-hander is feeling.

Meanwhile, Cubs manager Joe Maddon said he will likely add another left-handed bat to his lineup against Scherzer. Maddon referred to Scherzer as "oppressively difficult" against right-handed hitters.

The Cubs overcame being no-hit for 5 2/3 innings in Game 1 against Stephen Strasburg to pull out a 3-0 victory to take an early series lead. But after the Nationals scored five times in the eighth inning in Saturday's 6-3 victory to even the series, Cubs left fielder Kyle Schwarber said it's just a matter of keeping the right approach against Scherzer.

"It's Scherzer -- we all know he's got good stuff," Schwarber said. "But we're not afraid of the name on the back (of the jersey). We're going to go out and execute what we want at the plate."

While the Cubs prepare to face Washington's ace, Chicago will counter with Jose Quintana, who will make his postseason debut. Quintana, who was acquired from the crosstown White Sox in a midseason trade, will face the Nationals for the first time in his career.

Despite Quintana's lack of playoff experience, Maddon points to performances Quintana made late in the regular season when the Cubs were still in a fight for a Central Division title. Like Scherzer, Quintana will take the mound looking to give his team an edge in the series.

Quintana said he feels no pressure.

"I (will) just go try and get focused, pitch by pitch (and) control my emotions every time," Quintana said. "I think that's the huge part for me -- especially when it's my first time here."

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Max Scherzer Giving Away Memorabilia For Good Cause

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USA Today Sports Images

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.