Nationals

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Instant analysis: Braves 5, Nats 1

Instant analysis: Braves 5, Nats 1

Game in a nutshell: With a chance to pull off a rousing series sweep and extend their lead over the Braves to a commanding eight games, the Nationals were silenced by the unheralded Kris Medlen. The right-hander, who has pitched brilliantly since moving into the rotation, tossed seven scoreless innings, out-dueling Ross Detwiler, who faded quickly after a strong start to his evening. Ultimately, a lack of clutch hitting and some very shaky defense -- Bryce Harper took a bad route on a two-run double, and Ryan Zimmerman and Kurt Suzuki each committed errors during an ugly top of the ninth -- did in the Nationals. They didn't sweep the series, but they still took two of three and still hold a six-game advantage on the only team still challenging them in the NL East.

Hitting lowlight: How bad is Harper struggling at the plate? Really bad. After wearing a Golden Sombrero Tuesday night, he looked silly again in his first three plate appearances tonight. How you can tell Harper is lost at the plate: He's taking first-pitch fastballs for strikes, then swinging at breaking balls out of the zone. The rookie did redeem himself in the eighth, knocking Eric O'Flaherty's pitch into left field and then hustling into second base. But the way he's going right now, especially against left-handers, you have to wonder if Harper might be looking at some more bench time moving forward.

Pitching highlight: They say there's no better pitch in baseball than a well-placed fastball, and Detwiler proved that theory correct through the first three innings of this start. Relying almost 100 percent on his heater, the lefty retired nine of the first 10 batters he faced and looked ready to cruise through the start. But a two-out, four-pitch walk of the opposing pitcher seemed to unnerve Detwiler; he wasn't the same after that. Martin Prado drilled a two-run double to deep center (after Harper took a bad jump) to put the Braves ahead. A couple more hits surrendered in the sixth ended Detwiler's night much sooner than anyone would have expected only a few innings earlier.

Key stat: On June 3, all five teams in the NL East were separated by only 3 12 games. When play began today, the Mets, Phillies and Marlins were all 20 games back, with the Braves seven games back.

Up next: After a day off, the Nationals head north to Philadelphia for a weekend series with the fading Phillies. Edwin Jackson takes on Kyle Kendrick in Friday's 7:05 p.m. opener at Citizens Bank Park.

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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.