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Instant analysis: Nats hold on to beat Braves, 5-4

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Instant analysis: Nats hold on to beat Braves, 5-4

Game in a nutshell: Apparently, the Nationals' scoring barrage this week wasn't entirely a product of Coors Field. Those bats were nearly as hot here in Atlanta, leading to a 15-hit night. Michael Morse led the charge with four hits, Ryan Zimmerman added two of his own, Ian Desmond chimed in with a two-run double and Jesus Flores clubbed a solo homer. That all put Ross Detwiler in position to earn the win, but the left-hander (after six dominant innings) crumbled in the seventh, giving all four runs back (the final two on Andrelton Simmons' homer). No worries, because Morse immediately responded with a homer off Chad Durbin in the top of the eighth, and Sean Burnett and Tyler Clippard finished things off to seal a tense victory and give the Nationals a 4 12-game lead over the Braves.

Hitting highlight: What's been the key to the Nationals' sudden resurgence at the plate? How about the resurgence of Morse as a bonafide, middle-of-the-order threat? With a 4-for-4 showing tonight, Morse now has 12 hits in his last 19 at-bats. During that span, he's raised his batting average from .217 to .294. All along, the Nationals have insisted Morse just needed to see more pitches and get his timing down after missing three months with a torn lat muscle. Looks like he's got that timing down pat now, much to his team's delight.

Pitching highlightlowlight: For six innings, Detwiler was brilliant, perhaps as good as he's ever been. The left-hander was efficient (only 74 pitches to record 18 outs) and even showed some intestinal fortitude in pitching his way out of a fifth-inning jam. But then came a Stage 3 meltdown in the bottom of the seventh. Detwiler plunked Freddie Freeman. He couldn't field a comebacker from Jack Wilson. He was charged with a balk. He served up an RBI single to Martin Prado. He allowed a sacrifice fly to Michael Bourn. And then he made the biggest mistake of all: a fat, 1-2 curveball to Simmons that landed in the bleachers and tied the game 4-4. Detwiler, who has completed seven innings in only two of 56 career starts, hunched over and put his hands on knees in disgust.

Key stat: In 255 career games against the ExposNationals franchise, Chipper Jones has hit 40 homers with 60 doubles and 154 RBI.

Up next: The temperature might reach 105 degrees when Stephen Strasburg and Mike Minor take the mound at 4:05 p.m. Saturday for the second game of this series. When's the last time Strasburg pitched in anything resembling normal weather?

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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.