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Previewing Los Angeles Dodgers at Washington Nationals

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USA TODAY Sports

Previewing Los Angeles Dodgers at Washington Nationals

WASHINGTON -- Nationals Park is not foreign to left-hander Alex Wood, who is slated to start there Friday for the Los Angeles Dodgers, but he hasn't tasted victory in the nation's capital.

Wood (14-3, 2.81 ERA) used to pitch for the Atlanta Braves, who make three trips a year to Washington. He is 3-3 with a 2.78 ERA in nine career starts against the Nationals and 0-2, 2.84 in four turns at Nationals Park.

After going 10-0 with a 1.67 ERA in the first half of the season, he is 4-3 with a mark of 4.53 in the second half.

REALTED: NATS WITHIN STRIKING RANGE OF DODGERS FOR NL'S BEST TEAM

Wood went only five innings Saturday in his most recent start, giving up five runs and eight hits with three walks and two strikeouts in a 6-5 home loss to the Colorado Rockies.

"My command wasn't great," Wood said after the game. "Overall, I thought my stuff was there. I got to hopefully lock the command back in. It's time to bear down and hopefully turn this thing around."

Wood is 6-1 with a 2.38 ERA in 11 road starts this year.

The Nationals will start Edwin Jackson (5-5, 4.14 ERA), who is 4-3 with a 4.15 ERA in 10 career games (eight starts) against Los Angeles.

The Dodgers (94-52) beat the Nationals (89-57) in five games last year in the National League Division Series, and the teams are on track to finish with the two best records in the league this year.

Washington clinched the NL East on Sunday, and the Dodgers are closing in on the NL West title. The Nationals won two of three in Los Angeles June 5-7.

"I don't think we need to make a statement," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said of facing Washington, "but I do think it's important for us to play good baseball. With baseball, there is a psychological component to pitcher-batter, team vs. team, that you can't really quantify, but there is something to it.

"We lost a series to these guys at home, so for us to go into their ballpark, with their team playing pretty good baseball, I think it's important. Not only because it's the Nationals, but for us internally to play good baseball. If we do that, it's a statement enough."

Washington manager Dusty Baker played in the World Series for the Dodgers in 1977, 1978 and 1981.

Speaking of the current Dodgers team, Baker said, "I'd watch them every day, it's just too late to stay up and watch. I've been paying attention to them the whole time, teams (that had) a better record than us or near us."

The Nationals are trying to get several regulars healthy as they prepare to host playoff games Oct. 6 and 7.

Jayson Werth returned to the starting lineup Wednesday after missing five games due to a sore left shoulder. Bryce Harper, who is on the disabled list because of knee and calf injuries, has started to ramp up his activities. He ran in the outfield before the Thursday game.

RELATED: SEE MOMENT NATS WON NL EAST TITLE

There was good news about shortstop Trea Turner, who missed 51 games with a wrist injury but had three hits Wednesday and stole his 40th base of the year. Turner added a double Thursday.

The Nationals beat the Braves 5-2 on Thursday with strong games from young players such as Victor Robles and Adrian Sanchez. Regulars Ryan Zimmerman, Anthony Rendon and Daniel Murphy all got the night off.

"We got some energy tonight," Baker said Thursday, "and so hopefully that will transfer into tomorrow with our veteran guys against the Dodgers. And hopefully they'll be rested and ready to go tomorrow."

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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.