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Murphy, Scherzer continue to torment Mets in 2016

Murphy, Scherzer continue to torment Mets in 2016

After Warriors shooting guard Klay Thompson went off for 41 points - including a playoff record 11 threes - at the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 6 of the 2016 Western Conference Finals, Max Scherzer - a Warriors fan - took to his Twitter account to shout his elation in capital letters, noting how Thompson rose to the occasion in one of the most important games of his career:

"Klay Thompson just showed the world how BIG TIME PLAYERS play in BIG TIME GAMES!"

The message spoke to his admiration not only for Thompson's abilities, but for the opportunity he seized as a professional athlete. Scherzer himself will admit that some of his own games mean more than others, depending on the time of season, opponent or circumstances in the standings.

The stakes of a Major League Baseball game on June 29th do not quite compare to those of a do-or-die NBA playoff tilt, but on Wednesday night Scherzer once again stepped up against the rival New York Mets, the reigning champions in the NL East. The Nats ace went 7 1/3 shutout innings with just two hits allowed and 10 strikeouts in Washington's 4-2, sweep-securing win.

Scherzer now has a 1.66 ERA in six starts against the Mets since he signed with the Nationals before the 2015 season. In his last three matchups with them, he's allowed just two earned runs across 22 1/3 innings.

Scherzer wasn't the only big time player to show up in a big time game on Wednesday. Add Daniel Murphy to the category, as the Nats second baseman clubbed two homers, his 13th and 14th of the season. Since joining the Nats, he is 15-for-35 (.429) with four homers and 11 RBI against his former team.

Manager Dusty Baker is pleased to see two of his most important players raise their games against the Mets.

"It’s everything. You want them to step up against everybody, but especially against your rivals, guys you’re chasing or guys that are chasing you," Baker explained. 

"This was big… Every game’s a two-game game when you’re playing a team that’s chasing you or you’re chasing them."

Getting Murphy to publicly admit pleasure in hammering his former team has so far proven to be an impossible task. He doesn't like talking about himself and he definitely does not like talking about his former team.

Scherzer, though, will speak on his behalf.

"It's just obvious that he wants to beat 'em up. It's obvious," Scherzer said. "Everybody wants to. When you face you're former team, you obviously wanna get the best of them. For him to come out here and really slug against them, it puts a smile on all of our faces because we know what he's going through."

Murphy will not put extra weight on games against the Mets, but will detail the importance of sweeping an NL East foe.

"You like playing well against division opponents. Those games, they just count extra. You've got one team, when they win they move in one direction, the other teams moves in the other one," Murphy said.

A lot can change from the end of June until the end of the regular season and the Nationals know that well. In 2015, they were 6-3 through their first nine games against the Mets, just as they are this season. They lost their next six matchups and the division along the way.

There will be many more opportunities this season for players on either side to step up and make a dramatic difference in the season series. So far in 2016, however, it's been Scherzer and Murphy who have stood out among all.

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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.