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Instant Analysis: Nats 8, Padres 5

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Instant Analysis: Nats 8, Padres 5

Game in a nutshell: Bryce Harper's first career homer set the early tone for the night, but the Nationals were forced to rally after starter Ross Detwiler gave up five runs. Perhaps negatively affected by the loss of rookie catcher Sandy Leon to a scary-looking ankle injury, Detwiler put his teammates in a 5-4 hole. No problem, because Ian Desmond responded with a two-run double in the sixth, and Chad Tracy and Xavier Nady added solo homers in the ninth to provide some cushion for Henry Rodriguez. And the beleaguered closer needed it, because he walked the bases loaded with one out, forcing Davey Johnson to summon Sean Burnett to bail him out. Which Burnett did by inducing a game-ending, 1-2-3 double play.

Hitting highlight: It was bound to happen eventually, and it didn't disappoint when it did finally happen. With two outs and nobody on in the bottom of the third, Harper crushed a 2-1 breaking ball from Tim Stauffer over the center-field fence and well up the grass batter's eye for his first career home run. The 19-year-old became the youngest major leaguer to homer since Adrian Beltre in 1998 and got a curtain call from the announced crowd of 19,434.

Pitching highlight: After Detwiler labored through five innings, Johnson was forced to turn to his bullpen earlier than usual. No problem, because Craig Stammen came to the rescue yet again. The right-hander tossed two scoreless innings, striking out three in the process, to bridge the gap from Detwiler to setup man Tyler Clippard. Stammen now boasts a 1.29 ERA and 23 strikeouts in 21 innings out of the bullpen this season.
Key stat: This was only the fourth time in 35 games this season in which the Nationals' starting pitcher gave up more than three earned runs.

Up next: Stephen Strasburg finally gets a chance to face his hometown team when the Nationals host the Padres in the 1:05 p.m. finale of this very brief, two-game series. Right-hander Anthony Bass starts for San Diego.

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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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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.