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Scherzer exits with hamstring cramp, Nats fall to Bucs 4-1

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Scherzer exits with hamstring cramp, Nats fall to Bucs 4-1

WASHINGTON  -- Max Scherzer hopped awkwardly off the mound, putting the Nationals on edge in an otherwise meaningless playoff tuneup.

Now Washington is just hoping its ace has his legs back under him by the end of the week.

Scherzer was pulled with a right hamstring cramp in his final regular-season start, and NL East champion Washington lost to the Pittsburgh Pirates 4-1 Saturday night.

Scherzer was not available to speak with reporters after the game. He left Nationals Park to get a precautionary MRI on the hamstring, according to a team spokesperson.

"We took him out for precaution," Washington manager Dusty Baker said. "We gotta make it to the playoffs healthy. So we thought it was better that we make that move, the precautionary move, to get him ready."

Baker downplayed the severity of the injury, but with six days until Washington opens an NL Division Series at home against the Chicago Cubs, it did not want to take any chances with its NL Cy Young Award contender.

"In a bigger situation, he probably could have stayed in the game," Baker said.

Scherzer, who leads the league in strikeouts and is 16-6 with a 2.51 ERA, stumbled on a 2-2 pitch to Josh Bell in the fourth inning, briefly jumped around the mound and bent over at the waist.

Scherzer then began to throw a full-count pitch, but abruptly stopped when time was called.

Baker, pitching coach Mike Maddux and team trainers visited the mound and quickly took out Scherzer.

Scherzer had given up one hit and struck out five, raising his season total to 268, in 3 1/3 scoreless innings when he was hurt.

The Pirates rallied with four runs in the ninth inning off Brandon Kintzler (2-1). Sean Rodriguez singled home the tying run with Pittsburgh trailing 1-0 and down to its final strike. Max Moroff later hit a bases-loaded triple.

Scherzer, 33, has now left four of his last 10 starts with various ailments.

The two-time Cy Young winner left an Aug. 1 start at Miami with neck spasms.

On Aug. 19, Scherzer was scratched from a scheduled start against San Diego and placed on the 10-day disabled list with a recurrence of that neck injury. It was his first stint on the DL since 2009.

On Sept. 2, Scherzer took a line drive off his left calf in the first inning of a game at Milwaukee and was pulled after 75 pitches when the muscle tightened at the end of the fifth inning.

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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.