After 31 games, the Washington Nationals will have their best player in the lineup when they take their home field on Monday night.
Stud outfielder Bryce Harper was activated from the disabled list on Monday afternoon, where he was placed as a result of multiple knee issues stemming from a May 13th collision with an outfield wall. Harper was hitting the ball well before the injury for the Nationals, putting up a .287/.386/.587 slash line (.973 OPS) with 12 home runs in 178 plate appearances, and the 20-year-old is one of the best players in all of baseball, even at this early stage of his career.
In Harper’s absence, the Nationals continued their slow start, and as of Monday afternoon, the team is just 41-40 and trailing the Atlanta Braves by 6.5 games in the NL East race. Normally, this type of record wouldn’t be a big letdown, but the Nats were the darlings of nearly every media member in the Spring, and there were whispers of 100-win potential for this ultra-talented club.
As Harper returns, the pressure will mount on the Nationals, but fortunately, they are beginning to look a lot more like the team we all expected in March. Harper will undoubtedly hit when he returns, but the bigger concern for Washington will be keeping him on the field, as his “go 110%” effort level seems to get him into trouble here and there.
Welcome back, Bryce.