Nationals 'optimistic' outfielder Bryce Harper will be available for playoffs

Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper has been sidelined since Aug. 12 with a bone bruise in his left knee. While there was no structural damage to the knee, it was indeed a scary-looking injury. The club never really laid out a firm timeline for Harper's recovery, but the hope was always that he'd return in time for the postseason.

Now, the Nats are feeling a bit more confident about that. Via MLB Network Radio on Twitter, here's what GM Mike Rizzo had to say about Harper's current status: 

Harp has been doing some baseball activities. He is progressing at a cautious pace. We are optimistic that he will be here for playoff baseball, and we're moving towards those ends. He really lengthens the lineup and is a impact guy in the middle that everybody that we play has to account for. He makes it easier for everybody around him. 

The key takeaway is that Rizzo and the Nats are "optimistic" that Harper's knee will be well enough to allow him to play in the postseason. With Harper in his penultimate year of team control and the team having made a number of trades for near-term improvements, the Nats are all-in on winning the World Series this year and next. Having Harper available for, if paces hold, an NLDS matchup against the reigning-champion Cubs is obviously critical. 

Speaking of which, the 24-year-old Harper this season is batting .326/.419/.614 (162 OPS+) with 29 homers in 106 games. Yep, that's the kind of production you absolutely need in your playoff lineup. 

CBS Sports Writer

Dayn Perry has been a baseball writer for CBS Sports since early 2012. Prior to that, he wrote for FOXSports.com and ESPN.com. He's the author of three books, the most recent being Reggie Jackson: The... Full Bio

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