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Nationals rookie Pedro Severino ready for first MLB postseason

Nationals rookie Pedro Severino ready for first MLB postseason

Ask Nationals rookie Pedro Severino about the biggest postseason game he's ever played in and he will turn to show-and-tell. In his locker in the Nats' clubhouse is the championship ring he won as a member of the 2014 Single-A Potomac Nationals. It's gold on the sides, jeweled on the top and heavier than it looks.

Now, just two years after he helped lead the P-Nats to the Carolina League title, the 23-year-old catcher is expected to play a significant role on the Nationals in the 2016 MLB postseason. With Wilson Ramos out due to a torn ACL, Severino is the next man up. 

"I feel good. I'm ready to play. I'm ready for Friday," he said. "I have my first postseason game on Friday. I don't think there is any pressure. It's still baseball. There are more people. That's it."

Severino could, in fact, start in Game 1 on Friday. Manager Dusty Baker has already hinted at that possibility with lefty Clayton Kershaw set to pitch for the Dodgers. A right-handed batter, Severino hit .309 against lefties in the minors this season compared to .261 against righties.

Kershaw will offer a much tougher challenge than anyone Severino saw in the minors, of course.

"He's one of the best pitchers. Like my friend said a long time ago, if he controls the ball over the plate, I can do my best. The only thing is don't try to do too much with that guy. Just try to put the ball into play. That's important for me. I know he's the best pitcher, but I can't do anything about that," Severino said.

Severino only has five at-bats against left-handers in the majors this season, but his overall numbers are solid, albeit in a small sample size. Through 16 big league games he's 9-for-28 (.321) with two homers, four RBI, six runs, two doubles and five walks. 

Severino, though, will be leaned on more so for his defense, the biggest reason why he is in this position as Ramos' replacement.

"He's pretty danged good back there framing the ball and throwing the ball. I think he'll be just fine," outfielder Bryce Harper said.

Severino has already stood out defensively, but has plenty to learn about the Nationals' pitching staff. He has nowhere near the experience that Ramos and Jose Lobaton have in dealing with Max Scherzer, Tanner Roark and others.

Severino tries to learn as much as he can from Ramos and Lobaton whenever he's around them.

"I'm so proud because I can play on this team. Everyone here is like a family. We help each other," Severino said. "The first time when I got called up in September, Ramos got the lineup and taught me everybody. What pitch they have to throw, what pitch for every count. Loby has done it a couple times. I feel so proud because they play the same position that I play and they don't feel like there is something wrong if I play good or if I play bad. They try to help me. That's important."

Severino talks to the Nats' veteran catchers, but also picks up a lot simply by watching the veterans go to work.

"He's always paying attention. I don't ever have to tell him in the dugout to quit fooling around, to watch and see how they're pitching this guy," Baker said. "What's impressed me probably the most is his ability to recall what the gameplan is and how to make adjustments."

Ramos is out for these playoffs and likely most of next season, and is also an impending free agent, which means Severino has an opportunity this October to earn a larger role next year. The Nats have a lot of uncertainty at the catcher position and he could factor into the equation this winter.

"I've been impressed with what he's been doing," first baseman Clint Robinson said. "He's a young guy with something to prove. With the catching spot possibly up for grabs next year, he wants to prove that he's going to be that guy next year."

There are, of course, some pretty important things to take care of first.

[RELATED: Nats not overly concerned injuries will affect defense]

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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.