Just in time for the playoffs, the Washington Nationals are set to get Bryce Harper back in the lineup.
Having long since wrapped up the NL East, with or without an official clinching of the division title, getting ready for the playoffs has been the priority for the Washington Nationals.
Outfielder Bryce Harper has been out since Aug. 12, after slipping on a wet base and suffering injuries to his left knee and left calf, but he has been ramping up lately by playing in simulated games. Now, according to Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post, Harper is expected to be in the lineup against the Philadelphia Phillies Monday night.
Update: Harper will not be in the lineup Monday night, but his knee is not the issue.
Harper luckily avoided a major knee injury after awkwardly slipping on that wet base, which made his return for the final week of the regular season and then the postseason a possibility. Through 106 games at the time he was injured, the 2015 NL MVP was enjoying a nice rebound season with a .326/.419/.614 slash-line, 29 home runs, 87 RBI and 92 runs scored.
Simply getting Harper back in the lineup is obviously a huge positive for the Nationals, even if he doesn’t necessarily play consecutive games over the final week of the regular season. The benefit of sending him to instructional league in Florida just to get some at-bats is minimal, with a need to get re-calibrated to major league pitching fairly quickly. So the Nationals are putting Harper in position to get any kinks out at the plate in the only environment to do just that before the postseason.
The Nationals are getting well at the right time, as shortstop Trea Turner notably returned from a wrist injury on Aug. 29. After years of unfulfilled postseason expectations, due in part to key injuries, a healthy lineup and starting rotation (fingers crossed) with a mostly healthy bullpen may finally bring some World Series games to Nationals Park this October.