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MLB Washington Nationals

Washington Nationals Continue to Scuffle Without Bryce Harper

Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports

In Saturday’s MLB matinee action, the Washington Nationals lost 5-1 to the New York Mets.

Bryce Harper has been out since May 26, but there does seem to be light at the end of the tunnel as he could rejoin the Nats as soon as Monday. The 20-year-old is recovering from bursitis in his left knee, which started when he tried to act like a Boo Brother and just go through the outfield wall in Dodger Stadium. The outfield wall won. Harper played for another couple of weeks after that, but he was clearly struggling with the banged up knee and ultimately, he did land on the disabled list.

The fact that Harper was eligible to come off the DL on June 11, yet the calendar will turn to July before he is back, and the fact that Dr. James Andrews had to be involved here shows us that the injury was fairly problematic and worrisome. This team has to hope that he can get back to his level of play quickly as they are a team that has been bad, like practically the worst in baseball, at scoring runs and being productive on offense.

Despite being out over a month Harper still leads the Nationals in on-base percentage (.386) plus his batting average (.287) and home runs (12) are on the Nats leaderboard too. The second-year stud got off to a great start in April, but everything since then has been struggles and injuries.

On the season Washington is 25-19 when Harper plays, and after Saturday’s loss they are now 15-21 without him. The 2012 National League Rookie Of The Year winner still struggles vs lefties, but he is a massive threat vs righties and this upcoming week features a steady diet of righties for the returning star to feast on.

Harper will come back to a team that is pretty much the same distance from a playoff spot as they were when he wasn’t injured because the Atlanta Braves have scuffled somewhat in the NL East (Hotlanta just 16-16 since Harper went on DL). If this team is going to reach the lofty level they set out for themselves, then Harper will need to lead the charge. That is a lot on a 20-year-old’s plate, but he is better than most players in all of the MLB and he can do things that his teammates struggle mightily to do. He is that good.

The 2013 Nationals were a huge favorite to win the World Series, but at this point, they need a guy to step up and lead them back into playoff contention. Harper has to be that guy.

Craig Ballard is a NFL/NBA/MLB writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @craigballard77, and you can find all of his articles HERE