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Instant analysis: Nats 8, Phillies 4

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Instant analysis: Nats 8, Phillies 4

Game in a nutshell: Desperate for a win in perhaps their biggest house of horrors, the Nationals turned to man who has known almost nothing but misery in Philadelphia in John Lannan. The left-hander responded with another solid outing, but more importantly benefited from some major early run support. Three Nationals homered off Kyle Kendrick in the game's first two innings, opening up a 5-0 lead in the process. The Phillies, though, kept chipping away, scoring twice off Lannan, then once off Ryan Mattheus, then once off the slumping Tyler Clippard to leave this a 5-4 game entering the ninth. Would this one require a tense finish? Nope, and for that the Nats can thank Jayson Werth. After getting the local fans riled up by pretending to throw a foul ball into the stands, he stepped to the plate and delivered a two-out, two-run single in the top of the ninth for some huge insurance runs. That made life easy for Drew Storen, who didn't even have to appear in a save situation. Good thing the Nationals won, too, because the Braves beat the Marlins again to improve to 9-2 over their last 11 games. So the lead in the NL East remains four games with seven to play, with the magic number now down to 4.

Hitting highlight: They all came early, and they came before you could blink. Bryce Harper, Ian Desmond and Kurt Suzuki all homered in a span of seven batters, all of them impressive. But let's spotlight Harper, because he's once again doing things few have ever done before at his age. With 20 homers, he's only four shy of Tony Conigliaro's teenage record. With 93 runs scored, he's only seven shy of Buddy Lewis' teenage record. And with his 17th stolen base, he's now the first teenager in big-league history in the 17-17 club. Three more steals and he'll join the 20-20 club.

Pitching highlight: He may not acknowledge it publicly, but Lannan knows all too well about his past struggles in this ballpark and against this team. So he certainly took the mound tonight knowing the pressure was on to deliver. And he responded in impressive fashion. Obviously it helped to be staked to a 5-0 lead, but Lannan opened his night by inducing three straight groundballs. He walked only one batter over his 5 13 innings. And though he was charged with two earned runs, both scored thanks in large part to defensive miscues. Above all else, Lannan did what the Nats needed him to do: Throw strikes, get deep enough into the game and give his team a chance to win. He's now made five big-league starts this season, and has a 4-0 record to show for it.

Key stat: The Nationals are one of only three NL teams with four 20-homer players this season. The others: the Brewers and Cardinals.

Up next: The series concludes at 7:05 p.m. Thursday, when Gio Gonzalez goes after his 21st win of the season against Phillies rookie right-hander Tyler Cloyd.

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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.