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Nationals look to win series against Mets behind Stephen Strasburg

Nationals look to win series against Mets behind Stephen Strasburg

NEW YORK -- On Thursday afternoon, New York Mets manager Terry Collins said it was imperative for his team to at least keep treading water in the National League East standings during a four-game series against the Washington Nationals.

"We made up some ground this week," Collins said. "So let's just not lose any."

It only took two games for the Mets to lose their margin for error.

The Nationals will look to continue burying the Mets in the division race on Saturday afternoon, when the two rivals meet again at Citi Field.

Washington's Stephen Strasburg (7-2, 3.27 ERA) is scheduled to face New York's Seth Lugo (1-0, 1.29 ERA) in a battle of right-handers.

The Nationals cruised to their second straight win Friday, when ace right-hander Max Scherzer struck out 10 over eight innings in a 7-2 victory.

Washington (41-26) has outscored the Mets (30-36) 15-5 in the first two games of the series.

The fast start against the Mets comes immediately after the Nationals went 2-5 on a week-long homestand, during which they were outscored 46-34 by the Baltimore Orioles, Texas Rangers and Atlanta Braves.

"I think we hit a little funk there at home just for whatever reason, we just didn't play good as a team," Scherzer said Friday night.

But maybe getting on the road was all the Nationals needed. Washington (23-12 away from Nationals Park) is virtually tied with the Colorado Rockies (25-13) for the best road record in the NL.

"We've played really good ball on the road, we've been some road warriors," Scherzer said. "Off to a good start here, taking two from a division rival."

With the back-to-back wins, the Nationals increased their NL East lead over the now third-place Mets to 10 1/2 games.

New York, which won five of its previous six games heading into Thursday, now needs to figure out how to turn things around Washington, which has won all five games between the teams this season at Citi Field.

"We're playing a division team, the first-place team, and we want to beat these guys," said Mets left-hander Steven Matz, who took the loss Friday night. "It's never fun losing, especially to guys in your division."

Strasburg didn't factor into the decision in his most recent start last Sunday, when he gave up a season-high six runs over a season-low five innings in the Nationals; 11-10 loss to the Braves. Despite the subpar numbers, Strasburg was in line for the win until the Washington bullpen allowed five runs over the final two innings.

This will be the second start of the season for Lugo, who missed the first 60 games due to a partially torn right UCL. He earned the win in his debut last Sunday after allowing one run over seven innings as the Mets beat the Atlanta Braves, 2-1.

Strasburg is 7-4 with a 2.64 ERA in 13 career starts against the Mets. Lugo is 1-0 with a 1.00 ERA in two games (one start) against the Nationals.

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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.