by Chris Lingebach

WASHINGTON — Matt Williams’ weekly radio appearances on 106.7 The Fan have grown increasingly tense as the Nationals have fallen further and further out of first place in recent weeks, but Wednesday’s hit began refreshingly lighthearted.

Jason Bishop of The Junkies mentioned to the manager how, at the beginning of the season, he had placed a $20 wager with co-host John-Paul Flaim betting that Bryce Harper — who hit home runs 38 and 39 Tuesday night against the Phillies — would not finish 2015 with 40 homers.

“Can you just shut him down for a couple weeks?” Bishop asked.

“Sorry, can’t do that, guys,” Williams said.

“I’m gonna lose that bet, aren’t I?” Bishop said.

“I would imagine so,” Williams said. “I think he’s seeing it pretty good right now. I think the 20 bucks is out the door.”

Harper is far and away the front-runner to win the National League MVP award this season. According to High Heat Stats, his 39 homers are the sixth most by a 22-year-old in Major League history — behind Joe DiMaggio (46), Johnny Bench (45), Juan Gonzalez (43), Alex Rodriguez (42) and Eddie Mathews (40) — with 18 games left to play.

Harper leads the majors in batting average (.338), on-base percentage (.467), slugging (.667), OPS (1.134) and WAR (9.6). He’s also second in walks (112) and runs scored (108).

Williams was asked if he thinks Harper will win the MVP award even if the Nationals miss the playoffs. The last player to do so was Albert Pujols in 2008, playing for the 86-76 fourth-place St. Louis Cardinals.

“I’m not in anybody’s head with regard to the voting,” Williams said. “All I know is that Bryce is having a great season. And I’m happy for any of our guys that have that type of success. Any success we have, I’m happy for our guys and they work so hard to be good players. Again, it’s not up to me. I don’t have an opinion on it one way or the other. All I know is that he’s put together one whale of a season.”

Burke & Herbert Bank “Fan Question of the Week”

Q: Is it possible that Jayson Werth could see some time at first base given the unstable injury situation with Ryan Zimmerman? – Michael in D.C.

A: “Yeah, oddly enough, you’d think that Jayson — as big as he is —  had been over there,” Williams said. “Remember he was a catcher. When he first started his career as a catcher. He’d never played first base. Again, during the course of a season you never know whether there are opportunities for that, but he hasn’t played there.

“He would be more comfortable if we put the gear on him and put him behind the plate than he would be at first base, I’m sure, but you never know. The injuries will force you to do things that are out of the ordinary, but as right now there’s no plans to put him at first, no.”

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