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NLDS 2017 Preview: Nationals vs. Cubs Tale of the Tape

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NLDS 2017 Preview: Nationals vs. Cubs Tale of the Tape

It's been a long time since the Washington Nationals played truly meaningful baseball. With such a commanding lead in the division, they've spent most of the past couple months just making sure they were healthy and tuned up for the postseason.

That now starts Friday, which the Chicago Cubs coming to town for the first two games of the NLDS.

The biggest question surrounding the Nationals, though, is whether or not they can make it past Chicago, to the NLCS for the first time in franchise history.

Here's a look at both teams before Friday's Game 1.

RELATED: STRASBURG AND DOOLITTLE TAKE HOME MONTHLY AWARDS

Starting Pitching

Stephen Strasburg, Max Scherzer and Gio Gonzalez form as dominant a trio of starters as the Nats have ever worked with, and there's nothing better than having strong pitching in October. Scherzer's hamstring will be a concern, even if he says he's fine. 

Strasburg has been their best pitcher since the All-Star break, and went 4-0 with a 0.83 ERA and 40 strikeouts over 32 2/3 innings in September to earn his third career National League Pitcher of the Month Award. He also allowed just 19 hits and seven walks without giving up a home run in five outings in the last full month of the season.

Scherzer, Strasburg, and Gonzalez all ranked in the top-5 for ERA in the NL during the regular season as well.

The Cubs fell just behind the Nats in team ERA at the end of the season. The Nationals also rank eigth in walks, the Cubs 22nd. 

Advantage: Nationals

Bullpen

What was once a glaring issue for the Nationals, is now a strength, finishing fourth in the NL in saves. 

Still, the Cubs have a much better bullpen ERA, fewer walks, and a lot more strikeouts. 

Sean Doolittle did win NL Reliever of the Month, and the additions of Ryan Madson, Brandon Kintzler, along with Doolittle really improved a Nationals’ bullpen that was one of the worst in the league during the first half of the season.

Outside of those three pitchers though, the rest of the bullpen is far less reliable. 

Advantage: Cubs

Hitting

The Cubs bring a little more power in terms of home runs, but both are almost dead even in runs scored during the regular season. 

Daniel Murphy finished second in batting (.322), while Ryan Zimmerman and Anthony Rendon also finished hitting over .300 ranking inside the top-15. 

That Nats finished the regular season with the advantage in team batting as well. 

Advantage: Nationals

RELATED VIDEO: RIZZO TALKS HARPER'S RETURN FROM INJURY

Experience

Major disadvantage for the Nationals here. The Cubs won the World Series last year, while the Nats are still looking to win their first playoff series in franchise history. 

Yes, they won their fourth NL East title in six seasons, but experience comes when the games get deeper into the postseason.

That Nationals haven't been there yet, and the Cubs have won it it.

Advantage: Cubs

RELATED VIDEO: WILL REGULAR SEASON SUCCESS FOR NATS CONTINUE IN POSTSEASON?

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Max Scherzer Giving Away Memorabilia For Good Cause

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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.