WASHINGTON — After 41 long days on the disabled list, Washington Nationals star outfielder Bryce Harper was reinstated on Tuesday evening, reuniting with teammates as they prepare for the playoffs.
Harper last appeared in a Nats jersey on August 12, where he sustained a grisly, rain-induced injury diagnosed as a hyperextended knee with significant bruising to the bones in his knee.
He’s lucky to be back at all, given how bad things looked on the field.
But this was the rare best-case scenario brought to life, as he has enough time to get back into the flow of the game before the pressure of the MLB postseason sets in.
Harper brings with him a bat that was hitting near MVP numbers before he was injured, slashing .326/.419/.614. He returns to a lineup that got significantly better while he was away.
Trea Turner is back atop the order, setting the table for teammates and creating RBI opportunities seemingly at will. He returned from a trip to the disabled list in time to break the franchise record in stolen bases for a single season.
Fellow outfielders Michael A. Taylor and Jayson Werth have also returned from stints on the disabled list, and have had time to work back into the game. The addition of Harper recreates the best defensive alignment that the club can offer in the outfield.
Between now and the end of the season, the Nationals have six largely meaningless games. The Phillies and Pirates are already eliminated, while the Nats have already clinched the NL East. They could still, technically, chase down the Dodgers for the National League’s best record, but that seems highly unlikely.
Instead, the team will look clinch the best regular season record in franchise history, while it works Harper back into the mix. Now that he’s back, there is no incentive to push him harder.
The next meaningful game he plays will come on Friday, Oct. 6 vs. the winner of the NL Central.