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Harper moved up in lineup as Nats face Dodgers in Game 1 of NLDS

Harper moved up in lineup as Nats face Dodgers in Game 1 of NLDS

Game 1 of NL Division Series
Nats
 (95-67) vs. Los Angeles Dodgers (91-71) at Nationals Park

The Nationals have been here before with two previous stops in the MLB playoffs. Never have they advanced past the NL Division Series, where they find themselves once again, now with the Dodgers as their opponent and a pretty good pitching matchup in store for Game 1.

It all begins on Friday at 5:38 p.m. with two of the game's best starters set to square off. In one corner is Max Scherzer (20-7, 2.96) with one Cy Young on his résumé. In the other is Clayton Kershaw (12-4, 1.69) with three Cy Youngs and an MVP trophy on his mantle. It's arguably the best pitching matchup MLB can offer these days and it's a heck of a way to kick off a series.

The Nationals have included a surprise in their lineup with Bryce Harper hitting second and Jayson Werth is batting third. Manager Dusty Baker wants Harper to get some at-bats behind Trea Turner, hoping he'll see better pitches with the speedy rookie on base.

Werth hitting third is a product of him having good career numbers against Kershaw. Through 32 at-bats, Werth is batting .313 off the lefty.

Pedro Severino is in to start at catcher, as Baker noted on Thursday. He will catch Scherzer for just the second time this season.

First pitch: 5:38 p.m.
TV: FOX Sports 1
Radio: 106.7 The Fan, ESPN
Starting pitchers: Nats - Max Scherzer vs. Dodgers - Clayton Kershaw

NATS 

CF Trea Turner
RF Bryce Harper
LF Jayson Werth
2B Daniel Murphy
3B Anthony Rendon
1B Ryan Zimmerman
SS Danny Espinosa
C Pedro Severino
RHP Max Scherzer

DODGERS

2B Chase Utley
SS Corey Seager
3B Justin Turner
1B Adrian Gonzalez
RF Josh Reddick
CF Joc Pederson
C Yasmani Grandal
LF Andrew Toles
LHP Clayton Kershaw

[RELATED: 5 keys to a Nationals win over the Dodgers in the NLDS]

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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.

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Nats' Max Scherzer wins second straight NL Cy Young Award

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USA Today Sports Images

Nats' Max Scherzer wins second straight NL Cy Young Award

Max Scherzer of the Washington Nationals has coasted to his third Cy Young Award and second straight in the National League.

Scherzer breezed past Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw, drawing 27 of the 30 first-place votes in balloting by members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

The honor was announced Wednesday on MLB Network.

Scherzer earned the NL honor last year with Washington and the 2013 American League prize with Detroit. He became the 10th pitcher with at least three Cy Youngs.

RELATED: WIETERS WILL RETURN TO NATS IN 2018 

Scherzer was 16-6 with a 2.51 ERA and a league-leading 268 strikeouts for the NL East champion Nationals.

Kershaw has already won three NL Cy Youngs, and was the last pitcher to win back-to-back. He was 18-4 with a league-best 2.31 ERA and 202 strikeouts.

Corey Kluber of the Cleveland Indians easily won his second AL Cy Young Award earlier in the day. He got 28 of the 30 first-place votes, with Boston's Chris Sale second and Luis Severino of the New York Yankees third.

Kluber led the majors with a 2.25 ERA and his 18 wins tied for the most in baseball.