After a lengthy stay on the disabled list, Bryce Harper returned to the Washington Nationals‘ lineup on Monday night. Harper was ready to be back in the order after crushing the ball on rehab assignments including several long home runs. In his absence, the Nats have done some moving of players to see what combinations work in terms of production. With Harper now returning, the shuffling of players now gives the Nationals one of the most versatile and flexible lineups in the league.
Harper is capable of playing all three outfield positions. In addition, Washington also has Denard Span and Jayson Werth to complete the seemingly everyday outfield beside him. Even Ryan Zimmerman is now getting work in out on the grass of left field as well as at first base. Having a few position players that are able to move all over the diamond will certainly help the club down the stretch run if they hope to make a playoff run.
Being able to mix and match several guys each night will keep manager Matt Williams on his toes and the lineup much more fluid. Currently in a fight with the Atlanta Braves and Miami Marlins for the top spot, Washington’s order now appears to be much deeper with the dynamic Harper returning.
Washington’s order is already solid with several guys producing well in 2014. With the spark that Harper will provide upon his return, look for the Nationals to possibly make a run after the All-Star Break break thanks to their depth on offense. Anthony Rendon is another guy who can play multiple positions, and Adam LaRoche has had a quality season bouncing back from 2013. That depth is what will make the Nats a difficult team to match up against come the fall. Plugging him in the order will be nearly the equivalent to that of picking up someone at the trade deadline approaching. Look out for Washington as their lengthy lineup could start to become dialed in as the summer heats up.
Nick Schaeflein is a Sports writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @ptchr2424 or add him to your network on Google.