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Instant analysis: Nats 8, Braves 4

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Instant analysis: Nats 8, Braves 4

Game in a nutshell: On the day they learned they'll be sending at least three (and maybe four) players to Kansas City for the All-Star Game, the Nationals turned to one of their former All-Stars for some more offensive support. Ryan Zimmerman continued his torrid week at the plate with a double, a homer and three RBI that helped stake his team to a 4-0 lead in the top of the first. Staked to that lead, Gio Gonzalez battled his way through another scorching afternoon -- the temperature at first pitch was 101 degrees, and it reached 104 degrees by the fifth inning -- but wilted in the sixth when he served up a three-run homer to Freddie Freeman. No problem, because the Nats tacked on two late runs and then turned things over to their lights-out bullpen. Craig Stammen, Sean Burnett and Tyler Clippard combined for four scoreless innings to wrap up a series victory over the Braves.

Hitting highlight: You can only wonder what might have been had Zimmerman received his magic cortisone shot earlier in the season. It's too late to do anything about that now, but the Nationals are plenty happy with the results they've seen in the week since Zimmerman received that shot. With a two-run double, a towering, solo homer and an RBI single during today's game, Zimmerman now has 14 hits (seven of them for extra bases) and 13 RBI over his last eight games. The home run was particularly impressive because it was Zimmerman's most prodigious display of power perhaps all season.

Pitching highlightlowlight: The task of pitching on a 101-degree afternoon is by no means easy, but Gonzalez didn't exactly help his cause today. He struggled to find the strike zone from the beginning, and even though he'd only given up one run, his pitch count already stood at 74 through three innings. He completed the fifth at 98 pitches, his team leading 6-1, and there might have been some thought to having Gonzalez call it a day right there. Davey Johnson, though, let the All-Star lefty take the mound again for the bottom of the sixth, and that proved to be a mistake. Gonzalez immediately walked both Chipper Jones and Dan Uggla, then served up a three-run homer to Freeman that turned what had been a rout into a tense ballgame.

Key stat: When Ian Desmond scored on Rick Ankiel's first-inning single (with some help from Michael Bourn, who booted the ball in center field), the Nationals scored their 5,000th run since arriving in Washington in 2005.

Up next: Having concluded their 10-game, three-city road trip, the Nationals will take Monday off before returning to South Capitol Street to open a big series against the red-hot Giants. Note the special 6:35 p.m. starting time for Tuesday's game featuring Jordan Zimmermann and Tim Lincecum.

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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.