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Harper, Scherzer win monthly awards

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Harper, Scherzer win monthly awards

Bryce Harper’s record-setting May at the plate earned him an official MLB award on Wednesday: NL Player of the Month. And Max Scherzer’s dominant performance on the mound also earned him an award: NL Pitcher of the Month.

Harper won the monthly honor, a no-brainer considering his performance throughout May. The Nationals right fielder hit .360 with 13 home runs, 28 RBI, a .495 on-base percentage and 1.379 OPS in 26 games, setting a club record for homers in a single month while taking over the NL lead in several major offensive categories.

Overall, Harper enters play Wednesday hitting .329 with 18 homers, 44 RBI, a .470 on-base percentage and 1.188 OPS.

Harper becomes only the second National to win NL Player of the Month honors, joining fellow outfielder Jayson Werth (who won the award in both July 2013 and 2014).

Scherzer won his award after going 5-1 with a 1.67 ERA in May. He’s the fifth National to win Pitcher of the Month honors, joining Chad Cordero (June 2005), Stephen Strasburg (April 2012), Gio Gonzalez (May 2012) and Jordan Zimmermann (July 2012).

Harper and Scherzer are the first NL teammates to win these awards in the same month since the Brewers’ Ryan Braun and C.C. Sabathia in July 2008.

MORE NATIONALS: ROUGH WEEK FOR THE BULLPEN

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Stephen Strasburg returns to Nats lineup after DL stint

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Stephen Strasburg returns to Nats lineup after DL stint

Friday night marks the first second-half game of Major League Baseball's 162-game season. 

The Washington Nationals begin 5.5 games out of the first-place Phillies and host the second-place Braves for a three-game series before traveling to Milwaukee. 

One big piece to Dave Martinez's staff who has been missing since June 8 is Stephen Strasburg. The right-hander was activated from the DL and will start on the mound Friday night. 

Ryan Zimmerman was also activated but is not in Martinez's starting lineup. 

Prior to experiencing inflammation in his right shoulder during a June 8 start that forced him out of the game early, Strasburg saw flashes of dominance throughout his 13 starts owning a 3.46 ERA with 10.6 strikeouts per nine innings. 

Zimmerman hasn't played since May 9 due to a strained right oblique. With the emergence of Matt Adams, it will be interesting to see how Martinez uses both guys throughout the summer. 

Here is a look at Friday night's official lineup: 

According to Byron Kerr, Zimmerman is still happy to be back, despite not being in the starting lineup. 

Catch the Nationals hosting the Braves Friday at 7:05 p.m. on MASN2. 

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8 bold MLB predictions sure to be proven wrong

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8 bold MLB predictions sure to be proven wrong

It doesn't have quite the same feel as Opening Day, but the first games after the MLB All-Star break certainly have their own unique excitement to them.

Teams are jockeying for playoff position, and the trade deadline is rapidly approaching. The Nats have struggled through the first half, but are still within striking distance of a spot in the 2018 postseason, so every game matters.

To help get you ready for the rest of the 2018 regular season, our baseball writers have provided a couple of bold predictions which are sure to be proven wrong by August.

Bold predictions for the second half of the 2018 MLB season:

Ryan Wormeli: 1) Despite the consensus top three teams in baseball all residing in the American League, this year’s World Series champion will be a National League squad.

2) Max Scherzer does NOT win the National League Cy Young award, even though most fans agree he has the best statistical season.

Cam Ellis: 1) Bryce Harper ends up with 45 home runs this season.

2) Koda Glover eventually gets the 7th inning spot.

Michaela Johnson: 1) Nationals win the NL East (I know this VERY bold but like I said I have high expectations).

2) Tanner Roark will get back on top of his game.

Tyler Byrum: 1) The Milwaukee Brewers will drop out of the playoff hunt. 

Every year the Brewers seem to be close to running away with the NL Central. Then, once we get closer to the All-Star break and move beyond they go silent. It’s getting quite ridiculous at this point. Last year they had 50 wins in the first half, finished with only 86.

2) Philadelphia will make a trade deadline acquisition, but it will not get them over the hump. 

There are just too many issues with the Phillies; starting pitching behind Aaron Nola, consistent batting as a team, and the bullpen. They’ve done a fantastic job to piece together a 53-42 record and sit atop the division, but it will be tough to maintain it. 

Right now, they are almost the exact opposite of the Nationals.