The Washington Nationals have just wrapped up a solid homestand, going 4-3 and winning a series, so naturally, they’re on the road again, this time a quick three-game set against the New York Mets before returning home for a four-game set against the Milwaukee Brewers, which is the tentative return for Bryce Harper.
Harper has been rehabbing in Harrisburg and Potomac, and is batting .500 with a home run and three RBIs, walking twice and striking out twice. Harper has also played six innings in the field and on back-to-back days, and has slid both head first and leading with his left leg. Harper has basically shown everything he needs to show Washington that he is healthy, at least, he has in my opinion.
Davey Johnson has also said he would take Harper back whenever he feels he can return. Harper has said he does not want to come back until he’s 100 percent ready, but he also said he feels he is too young for cortisone, and had it injected by Dr. James Andrews, so there should not be a lot of stock put into that statement.
The fact of the matter is this: Harper has hit, hit for power, ran with no pain, played in the field and drawn walks. There is absolutely no reason for Harper to continue his rehab in the Minors. Washington should activate him today, and really do not have anything to lose in doing so. Washington faces the Mets, and have drawn Matt Harvey tonight and Zack Wheeler Sunday, so they are going to need all the offense they can get. Plus, Harper’s stand-ins are bordering on downright pathetic at this point.
Harper’s offensive statistics (.287/.386/.587) trump Washington’s team statistics by a mile (.235/.292/.377), and the idea of putting him behind Anthony Rendon has to have Johnson salivating, as it seems the duo could single-handedly carry Washington’s offense.
Also, Mike Rizzo has alluded to evaluating Washington healthy before the trade deadline, and bringing Harper back sooner allows him ample time to do so. If Harper re-injures himself, all Rizzo needs to do is add an outfielder that can hit in the middle of the lineup and play good defense. I know, easier said than done, but it would be terrible if Harper returns on the presumed schedule (Monday), and hurts himself again, and Rizzo has to work even harder to bring someone in, or call someone else up.
Bringing Harper back for this weekend’s series makes sense, because with the guys New York is throwing at them, they need all the offense they can get.