Bryce Harper seemed well on his way toward winning another MVP before he stepped on a slippery base in August and suffered a bone bruise to his knee. He finished 16th in average exit velocity (min. 200 at-bats) and 28th in barrel rate (7.7 Brls/PA, min. 190 BBE) according to Statcast, resulting in a .540 xSLG. His strikeout and walk rates both went in the wrong direction -- his BB/K fell from 0.92 to 0.69 -- but Harper hit lefties better, improving his average and OBP against southpaws by 85 points and 31 points, respectively. Harper didn't run last season and that part of his game may not come back under new manager Dave Martinez, and the injury history is starting to mount, but Harper is just a few years removed from one of the all-time great seasons in MLB history. Oh, and he's still just 25. Do not let Harper fall outside of the top 10.
Harper is in the lineup but will likely only play six or seven innings during Friday's game against the Pirates, The Washington Post's Jorge Castillo reports. In addition, manager Dusty Baker stated that Harper is unlikely to play all nine innings of any game this weekend while he continues to work his way back from a knee injury. Harper was activated from the disabled list Tuesday, and played two straight games before taking the day off for Thursday's series opener.
Harper is not in the lineup for Thursday's game against the Pirates, Mark Zuckerman of MASN Sports reports. Harper, who returned from a long-term knee injury earlier in the week, is apparently feeling a little sore after playing in back-to-back games, so he'll get the day off as the Nationals play it safe with him ahead of the playoffs. According to manager Dusty Baker, Harper's soreness is nothing to worry about and he expects the outfielder to play in the final three games of the regular season over the weekend, Dan Kolko of MASN Sports reports. Meanwhile, Victor Robles will start in right field and bat second in his place Thursday.
Harper will play right field and hit second in the Nationals' batting order Tuesday, Dan Kolko of MASN Sports reports. Tuesday's game will be just the sixth this season Harper has spent in the two hole. It remains to be seen if he will stay there moving forward, as manager Dusty Baker may just be looking to maximize his at-bats.
The Nationals activated Harper (knee) from the disabled list Tuesday, Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post reports. Harper is ready to get back on the field after missing roughly a month and a half with his knee injury. It remains to be seen where he will slot into the lineup, but it's a good bet he mans right field and hits third in the Nationals' batting order.
Harper (knee, illness) is feeling better and plans to be in the lineup for Tuesday's game against the Phillies, Chelsea Janes of The Washington Post reports. Harper, who has been sidelined since Aug. 12 with a knee injury, was expected to come off the disabled list prior to Monday's series opener against the Phillies, but his return was delayed by a day due to an illness. He's reportedly feeling better Tuesday, so it sounds like he should make his long-awaited return to the starting lineup. It's unclear if the Nationals will deploy Harper in an everyday role right away, but that will likely depend on how he checks out after his initial appearances.