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NLDS 2017 Preview: Nationals vs. Cubs Predictions

NLDS 2017 Preview: Nationals vs. Cubs Predictions

The Nationals' quest for the 2017 World Series championship begins on Friday when they take on the defending World Series champion Chicago Cubs in the 2017 National League Divisional Series.

This marks the Nationals' fourth trip to the postseason since moving to the nation's capital over a decade ago, and the team is still looking for its first trip to the NLCS.

In order to do so, they will have to defeat one of baseball's best rosters, led by one of baseball's best managers in Joe Maddon.

Can the Nationals bullpen dominate in October like it did in September? Will the Nationals bats heat up like the first half of the season? How healthy will Bryce Harper be?

These are all questions that will be answered beginning on Friday.

But with the series still in front of us, we took the pulse of the NBC Sports Washington newsroom to see what people are thinking.

So here it is, NBC Sports Washington's 2017 NLDS Nationals-Cubs predictions.

RELATED: NATIONALS-CUBS TALE OF THE TAPE

NLDS 2017: Nationals vs. Cubs Predictions

Smokin' Al Koken (@RealSmokinAL)Assuming Scherzer is Scherzer for at least one start , I think the Nat’s combination of pitching and power will prevail . Fully understanding regular season results usually mean nothing once the playoffs begin, I do believe the Nats success in their August series at Wrigley will give the team a good vibe when they return to the ivy . And my series under the radar , X-factor hero will be Howie Kendrick . Nats in 5, beginning another 108 year championship drought for the cubbies. Prediction: Nationals in 5. 

— Joe Beninati (@JoeBpxp): I know this may sound familiar to DC sports fans, but I was hoping for a different NLDS matchup! Then again, I like seeing the would-be champions defeat the reigning champions somewhere along the road ... might as well be right off the bat! I am confident that the Nationals have the arms to get the job done, and this fall their bats will behave better. Prediction: Nationals in 4. 

— Rob Carlin (@RobCarlinNBCS) While the Nats finally addressed their biggest issue over the years by shoring up their bullpen, I’m still a “show me” type of guy.  I  can’t trust those guys under the lights of the postseason until I see it. For the first time in 100 years, we can say the Cubs have been there and done that. Add in Max Scherzer's injury & the fact Bryce Harper hasn’t played much the last few months, and I fear another early playoff exit in DC. PREDICTION: Cubs in 4.

— Julie Donaldson (@JDonaldsonNBCS): With the Nationals healthy (fingers crossed), Dusty Baker gets closer to his first ring against his former team. Prediction: Nationals in 5.

— Tarik El-Bashir (@TarikNBCS): I’ve been saying for a couple of months now that the Nats, when at full strength, are the best team in baseball. They’ve got the offense. They're great in the field. And their one question mark — the bullpen — was shored up at the deadline. Bring it home, boys! Prediction: Nationals in 5. 

— JP Finlay (@JPFinlayNBCS): This is it. This is the year. No, not necessarily the World Series, but at least getting past the division series. Scherzer and Strasburg will be too much in a five-game series. But the bats need to show up. Prediction: Nationals in 4. 

— Chick Hernandez (@ChickAtNBCS): With Bryce Harper back in the lineup. the Nats get fresh legs and add depth to the middle of the lineup. The 1-2 punch of Strasburg & Scherzer — in whatever order — will have them steamrolling through the first series. Prediction: Nationals in 5.

— Chase Hughes (@ChaseHughesNBCS): The Nationals' lineup is stacked, and their pitching staff may be the best they've ever had, but after the All-Star break the Cubs scored more runs than anybody and had the best record in the NL. It's just a tough draw for the Nats. Prediction: Cubs in 5.

— Craig Laughlin (@Laughlin18): Here is my prediction. Blue Jays win it all!!! I have a great feeling about the Nats this season! They are ready to take the next step to win it all for our city. Will Bryce and Max be themselves ? If so, the pitching should be the difference. Predicton: Nationals in 5. 

— Michael Jenkins (@JenksNBCS): The Nationals finally pull it together and advance to the NLCS thanks to a stellar starting rotation and a bullpen that holds up just enough. Prediction: Nationals in 5.

— Troy Machir (@TroyMachir): The nation's capital does not do playoff sports very well, at least not recently. Will it change this year? It has to. The Cubs just got their world championship. Time for them to wait another 100 years. Seriously. I can't deal with anymore disappointment. Prediction: Nationals in 5.​

— Grant Paulsen (@GranthPaulsen)The Nationals have two ace-caliber starters, a revamped bullpen with three quality late-inning arms and one of the best lineups in baseball. Mike Rizzo has built a championship club and it will finally pay off with an NLCS appearances. Prediction: Nationals in 4.

— Rich Tandler (@TandlerNBCS): Sure, I’m a little worried about Bryce Harper and Max Scherzer. Actually, you add those up and that’s a lot of worry. But even if they aren’t at the top of their games, there is still Stras, Gio, Rendon, Zimm, Murphy, and the rest. I look for Michael Taylor to play a big role in the Nationals’—yes, I’m going to say it—sweep of the Cubs. Prediction: Nationals in 3. 

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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.