Nationals

Quick Links

Nationals win NL East, 1st MLB team to clinch playoff spot

strasburg910.png
USA Today Sports

Nationals win NL East, 1st MLB team to clinch playoff spot

WASHINGTON -- The Washington Nationals became the first team in the majors to clinch a playoff spot this season, winning the NL East on Sunday as Stephen Strasburg extended his scoreless streak to a franchise-record 34 innings in a 3-2 win over the Philadelphia Phillies.

More than 90 minutes after Washington finished off the Phillies, Nationals Park erupted again when Lane Adams hit a two-run, 11th-inning homer to lead Atlanta over second-place Miami, sealing the division title for the fourth time in six years.

The Nationals also won the NL East in 2012, 2014 and last season, but have not advanced past the divisional round of the postseason.

Trea Turner homered and tripled for the Nationals, and Victor Robles got his first major league hit and RBI as Washington rested nearly all its regular starters.

The Nationals also moved within 4 games of the fading Dodgers for the best record in the major leagues.

Strasburg (13-4) threw two-hit ball for eight innings and struck out 10. He hasn't allowed a run since Aug. 19 at San Diego, which was his first start since coming off the disabled list with an elbow nerve impingement.

Since returning from the DL, he is 3-1 with an 0.51 ERA, 41 strikeouts and just four walks.

Strasburg had command of everything he threw, including a fastball topping out at 97 mph and a 90-mph changeup. He walked one, induced two double plays and faced one batter over the minimum.

"He had all his pitches working for him and he was tough to hit," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. "We have young guys who have never seen him before, which also added to his success, not that he needs that."

The Phillies threatened in the ninth off Ryan Madson, who allowed Nick Williams' bloop two-out, two-run single before retiring Hoskins on a grounder. It was his second save this season and first for the Nationals, who acquired him in a trade with Oakland on July 16.

Rookie Ben Lively (3-6) allowed six hits and struck out seven in his first career complete game, and the first for the Phillies this year.

Lively allowed one hit before Turner led off the sixth with a triple and scored on Adrian Sanchez's bloop double. Robles doubled with two outs.

Turner homered with one out in the eighth to extend Washington's lead.

"That's just baseball. Two bad pitches, and that was the ballgame," Lively said. "Otherwise, I felt great. I felt like our game plan was on point. Just two hangers."

SCOREBOARD WATCHING

The Nationals have an outside shot at catching the free-falling Dodgers, which would guarantee them home-field advantage throughout the postseason. Catcher Matt Wieters, who made the postseason three times in the past five seasons with the Orioles, isn't obsessing over the standings.

"Normally I do like watching scoreboards," Wieters said before the game. "We know with the lead that we have, that if we just go out there and win, we'll be fine, and with the postseason, and I've learned this from the past, anything can happen at any time, so trying to control situations of where you play or what you'll do is really reaching at things that may not be in your control."

TRAINER'S ROOM

Nationals: Manager Dusty Baker rested 2B Daniel Murphy, 3B Anthony Rendon, OF Michael A. Taylor and 1B Ryan Zimmerman on Sunday, and Wieters and OF Jayson Werth sat out both Saturday and Sunday. Werth has a sore shoulder, and Wieters has dealt with intermittent back tightness.

Phillies: OF Aaron Altherr made his first start since Aug. 4. Altherr (right hamstring strain) was activated from the 10-day disabled list Monday but did not appear in a game until Saturday, when he played the ninth inning in left field. ... OF Odubel Herrera was out of the lineup one day after his 21-game hitting streak ended.

UP NEXT

Nationals: LHP Gio Gonzalez (14-6, 2.50 ERA) starts the opener of a three-game home series against the Braves on Tuesday. RHP Julio Teheran (10-11, 4.77 ERA) will pitch for Atlanta.

Phillies: After an off day Monday, Philadelphia begins a 10-game homestand Tuesday against Miami with RHP Nick Pivetta (5-10, 6.49 ERA) drawing the start.

Quick Links

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.

Quick Links

Nats' Max Scherzer wins second straight NL Cy Young Award

scherzer-cy-usatsi.jpg
USA Today Sports Images

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.