Bryce Harper hadn’t touched the diamond for the Washington Nationals since May 26 due to complications from running into the wall at Dodger Stadium on May 13. He was placed on the 15-day DL and has had somewhat of a slow recovery.
Harper returned to the Nationals lineup on Monday against the Milwaukee Brewers, though, and he announced his presence with authority. Batting third in the Nationals lineup, Harper connected on the second pitch that he saw. He sent the pitch into the visitor’s bullpen, right over the 377-foot mark in left-center field, for a solo home run.
Harper was held hitless for the remainder of the evening, finishing the night going 1-4, though he did get on base in the sixth inning via a walk. The Nationals weren’t short on offense, though, as they went onto top the Brewers by a count of 10-5.
The solo shot was Harper’s 13th of the season, which is second only to Ian Desmond, who has played in 36 more games than Harper this season. Harper is also hitting .286 on the season, which is second to only rookie Anthony Rendon among Nationals players that have played in 30 or more games this season.
After a slow start to the season and despite Harper’s injury and an injury to their ace Stephen Strasburg a while back, the Nationals have managed to climb to a 42-40 record and second place in the National League East. However, their offense has been a real issue this season.
Washington has scored just 295 runs this season as a team, which ranks 28th in the MLB. They also have the 28th ranked team batting average at just .236. Without Harper, they were forced to rely even more heavily on their pitching than normal.
Harper is undoubtedly the most dangerous bat in the Nats’ lineup. Not only is he a threat to hit the long-ball, but he also hits for solid average and gets on base to help to produce runs. If he can come back and play at the level he was before the injury, Washington will almost surely make a run at the division crown.