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Nats Stock Watch: Scherzer showing why he's the ace

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Nats Stock Watch: Scherzer showing why he's the ace

Each week this season, we’ll take the temperature of the Nationals roster to see whose stock is rising or falling.  

Record: 4-2

Team slash: .220/.275/.403

Team ERA: 3.53 

Runs per game:  2.3

STOCK UP 

Max Scherzer, SP:  2-0/ 19 K/ 0.60 ERA 

Who knows if there's any way a player can truly justify being worth a $210 million contract, but Scherzer is clearly doing everything he can to try. The 30-year-old righty has been everything the Nats could have hoped for and then some. He notched a pair of wins this past week to raise his record to 6-3 and has lowered his ERA to 1.51, good for fourth in the NL. More than anything, Scherzer's ability to command all his pitches and know what to throw in every count is what makes him stand out. Sure, he can reach back and hit above 95 mph with his fastball at times, but he's a pitcher's pitcher in terms of setting up hitters to chase in two-strike counts. It's one of the reasons why he leads the majors in strikeouts with 85. 

Bryce Harper, RF: .316 AVG/ 3 HR/ 1.300 OPS

Okay, this is getting a little ridiculous. Harper's insane hot streak rolls on, and he's done nothing to show that it might stop any time soon. It's near the point where we're running out of ways to describe his historic month of May. He's in such a zone that you wonder why opposing pitchers would even want to pitch to him at all anymore. His plate coverage -- particularly on pitches on the outer half -- has been superb; of his 18 home runs this season, seven have been to the opposite field. That goes to show not only his ability to wait on outside pitches, but also the strength he has to consistently drive the ball the other way. What else can you say? The guy's simply the talk of sport right now. 

Drew Storen, RP:  4 GP/ 4 Sv/ 0.00 ERA

Closers, as Mark Zuckerman recently wrote, are more often remembered for when they mess up rather than when they get the job done. That seems to be the story of Storen's career, with his few big blown saves sticking in Nats fans' memory more often than his consistent stretches. Storen leads the NL in saves with 16, and has an ERA of 0.84 -- fourth best in the NL for relievers who have pitches at least 20 innings. He also hasn't allowed a run since April 21, and has allowed just two all year. That'll work.

Denard Span, CF:  .292 AVG/ 2 HR/ .917 OPS

Span is back to his 2014 self, being everything you'd expect a prototypical leadoff hitter to be with one exception: He already has five homers on the season, which matches his total from all of last year. He's pacing for 17 home runs on the season, which would obliterate his career-best eight in 2009. For as good as Span is, if he's able to bring additional power to his game, that'd make an already dangerous Nats lineup even more lethal. 

[RELATED: Stars shine in Nats' 9th straight series win]

STOCK DOWN 

Stephen Strasburg, SP: 0-1/ 3.2 IP/ 12.27 ERA

For all that's gone well with the club over the last month, Nats fans are still trying to find the answer to the million dollar question: What's wrong with Stephen Strasburg? Unfortunately, no one really knows. It's clearly not his health, nor is it a lack of quality stuff. For all that's been said about his struggles, at some point you have to wonder if this is all in his head. You can talk about issues with mechanics or whether or not his fastball has have enough movement, but none of that fully explains why someone whose career numbers were among the better pitchers in the game over the last few years is suddenly unable to get out of the fourth and fifth innings of many of his starts. 

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With Ross placed on 60-day DL, Nationals agree to 1-year deal with veteran reliever

With Ross placed on 60-day DL, Nationals agree to 1-year deal with veteran reliever

WASHINGTON  -- The Washington Nationals say they have agreed to a one-year deal with 40-year-old reliever Joaquin Benoit.

The team announced the move Wednesday, along with placing pitcher Joe Ross on the 60-day disabled list as he recovers from Tommy John surgery in July.

The Nationals didn't release terms of the agreement, though a person with knowledge of the deal told The Associated Press on Monday that it was for $1 million.

The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the deal wasn't official at the time.

MORE NATIONALS: FULL 2018 SPRING TRAINING SCHEDULE

Benoit is a right-hander who first reached the big leagues in 2001. 

He has played for eight teams, finishing last year with Pittsburgh.

He has 764 career appearances, going 58-49 with a 3.83 ERA and 53 saves.

RELATED: 2018 MLB BETTING ODDS

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It's Day 1 of spring training and Bryce Harper is already done taking questions regarding his future

It's Day 1 of spring training and Bryce Harper is already done taking questions regarding his future

So if you have not heard, Bryce Harper is going to be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2018 season.

All off-season talking heads, baseball aficionados, radio hosts, etc. were speculating on where the outfielder’s destination will be next year.

And we are still a year away from it actually happening.

RELATED: VEGAS SETS OVER/UNDERS FOR 2018 MLB SEASON

Reporting to spring training on Monday, Harper did not waste any time telling the media how his press conferences were going to play out this season.

“If guys do [ask], or talk anything about that, I will be walking right out the door.”

Entering his seventh season with the Washington Nationals, the 25-year-old is coming off the second-best season, statistically, of his career. The 2015 NL MVP has hit .285 in his career, with 150 home runs and 421 RBIs. Unquestionably he is the face of the Nationals’ organization, if not, the best player in the team’s history.

If he does end the season without a contract extension, he will join Rafael Palmeiro, Alex Rodriguez, Randy Johnson, and Barry Bonds as the top sought out free agents in MLB history.

One thing is for certain in terms of Harper’s free agency; Harper has given no inclination on where his landing spot will be.  The top three cities are of course his favorite childhood team, the New York Yankees; joining with one of his closest friends with the Chicago Cubs; or just staying with Washington.

Wherever he does land, it does appear that it will be the largest contract given to a free agent ever.

As for now we just wait and direct any of your calls to his agent Scott Boras.

READ ALSO: NATIONALS FULL SPRING TRAINING SCHEDULE