Nats GM hopeful Bryce Harper will be back for playoffs

Washington Nationals' Bryce Harper looks on from the dugout during the fourth inning of a baseball game against the Atlanta Braves, Thursday, Sept. 14, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
AP Photo/Nick Wass

Earlier this week the Washington Nationals wrapped up the National League East title, and the team earned a second consecutive trip to the postseason despite not having right fielder Bryce Harper for the last month. Harper’s been sidelined due to a knee injury suffered during a game against the San Francisco Giants on Aug. 12, with the five-time All-Star being diagnosed with a hyperextended left knee and a bone bruise.

Friday, Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo discussed Harper’s status on MLB Network Radio, and he expressed optimism that the right fielder would be available when the postseason begins.

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

Bryce Harper’s appeared in 106 games for the Nationals this season, hitting .326 with 29 home runs, 87 runs batted in and a 1.034 OPS. On the field, Harper has a .989 fielding percentage, with just two errors in his 177 chances on the season.

Without Harper in the lineup, the Nationals have called upon multiple players to fill the resulting hole in right field, including veteran Jayson Werth. Werth has started nine games in right field this season, most recently doing so in Friday’s game against the Los Angeles Dodgers, with Andrew Stevenson making eight starts in right and Alejandro De Aza six.

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