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Nationals get Scherzer ready for postseason, Braves score 7 off him

Nationals get Scherzer ready for postseason, Braves score 7 off him

WASHINGTON -- It was part of the Washington Nationals' plan to push Max Scherzer's pitch count deeper than usual on Wednesday.

The Atlanta Braves' plate discipline and timely hitting in the seventh inning wasn't in the script.

Dansby Swanson smacked a bases-loaded, go-ahead two-run single off Scherzer, Matt Kemp hit a grand slam two batters later and Atlanta beat Washington 8-2.

RELATED: SEE MOMENT NATS WIN NL EAST 

Atlanta scored six runs in the seventh, and five were charged to Scherzer (14-6), who walked the bases loaded and remained in the game despite having thrown 114 pitches. Swanson then hit a 1-0 pitch to left to make it 4-2.

"We were just able to string good at-bats together," Swanson said. "Good pitchers like that, it's hard to be able to do that. It kind of gets magnified when you are able to do it."

The Nationals intentionally walked Freddie Freeman before manager Dusty Baker went to the bullpen. Kemp then drilled Brandon Kintzler's first offering to left for his seventh career grand slam and first since 2011.

Scherzer finished with 116 pitches, his most since July 7.

"With an extra day coming up, I thought it would be a good idea to try to get me into the 110, 115, 120 pitch count range tonight," Scherzer said. "I thought that would benefit me going forward and then looking into the postseason, pitch with some extra fatigue."

Scherzer, who had not lost since June 21 and had won six decisions in a row, allowed seven runs over six-plus innings -- the most he has yielded since giving up seven to the Chicago Cubs on May 6, 2016. He walked six batters, his most in nearly five years.

Manager Dusty Baker said he was weighing the long-term benefits of stretching Scherzer out when he opted to leave him in. Washington clinched the NL East on Sunday, but has since dropped back-to-back games.

"That was the game plan before the night started," Baker said. "I know it looked ugly. It looked ugly to you, it looked ugly to us, and the fans and everybody else. But if you have a game plan, then you want to stick with it as much as and as long as you can."

In his second start since his call-up from Triple-A Gwinnett, Atlanta rookie Luiz Gohara (1-1) needed only 71 pitches to complete six innings and secure his first major league victory. He allowed six hits and two runs while striking out six.

"The kid gets locked in and really competes," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "That's what I heard about him, from the guys that played with him, had him, been around him. They say once he gets out there, he's trying to beat you. That's legit stuff there, too."

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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.