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Scherzer roughed up as Nats drop second straight to Cubs

Scherzer roughed up as Nats drop second straight to Cubs

Postgame analysis of the Nats' 8-6 loss to the Chicago Cubs on Friday afternoon at Wrigley Field:

How it happened: After the Nats enjoyed a brief 2-0 lead highlighted by a first-inning solo home run by Anthony Rendon, Max Scherzer's homer problem reared its ugly head once again. 

The barrage began in the second inning when Tommy La Stella took Scherzer deep to tie it up at 2-2. Two innings later, the 31-year-old right hander allowed back-to-back solo shots to Anthony Rizzo and Nats-killer Ben Zobrist. It got worse as Zobrist hit his second of the day, this time a three-run homer, making it 7-2 Cubs and essentially ending Scherzer's outing. 

The Nats wouldn't go away, however, putting together a four-run rally in the eighth thanks to a two-run double by Jayson Werth and a two-run home run by Wilson Ramos. But like Thursday night's loss, it was too little, too late. 

What it means: The Cubs are good. Really, really good. The Nats, while off to a solid start themselves, aren't yet in the class of the North Siders, whose run differential now sits at a ridiculous +98. With Washington dropping the first two games of this marquee series, it is now 5-3 on this 10-game road trip. 

Scherzer gets roughed up: The Nats' $200 million man turned in his worst start of the season against the Cubs — and perhaps the worst start of his tenure in D.C. Scherzer's home run issues continued Friday afternoon, as he yielded four long balls —tied for his career-high in a single start — en route to allowing seven earned runs over five innings.

Scherzer's struggles have gotten to the point where it's hard to ignore that something's just not right. For one, Friday's outing represented the most runs he'd allowed since joining the Nats in 2015. Secondly, he now leads the majors in home runs allowed with nine. And if that isn't enough, he's also having trouble with the strike zone: He's already issued 15 walks in his first seven starts, nearly half of last season's total of 34. 

Murphy's back at it again: The silver lining in Friday's tough loss is that Daniel Murphy is continuing his scortching start to the season. After going hitless Thursday night, the Nats second baseman rebounded big time by going 4-for-4 on the afternoon to raise his batting average to an MLB-leading .406. It feels like this can't last all season, but a month into the season, he hasn't found himself in anything remotely resembling a slump. It's unlikely that Murphy's the next incarnation of Ted Williams, but it's safe to say the Nats may have gotten a bargain when they signed him last winter at three years, $37.5 million. 

What's next: The Nats will hope the third game in this four-game set is the charm as they'll send Gio Gonzalez (2-1, 1.15 ERA) to the mound on Saturday afternoon to oppose the Cubs' Jason Hammel (4-0, 1.24 ERA). 

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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