Davey Johnson says Bryce Harper is likely done for season with hamstring strain

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According to Ben Goessling of MASNSports.com, Nationals manager Davey Johnson just confirmed what most of us already assumed. Bryce Harper, who suffered a right hamstring strain while running the bases in a game with Double-A Harrisburg last night, will likely be shut down for the rest of the season.

“He probably won’t play the rest of the year, as far as I know,” Johnson said. “There’s only a few days left. You take a chance of aggravating it, and it becomes more of a serious injury.”

Of course, saying “shut down for the season” sounds pretty harsh, but missing the final two and a half weeks of the minor league schedule really isn’t a big deal. The Nationals haven’t given an official update on his condition yet, but if they rest him now, there’s still a very good chance he’ll be ready to play in the Arizona Fall League in October. Missing that would be a shame.

Harper, 18, made a mockery of the Sally League to begin the season, batting .318/.423/.554 with 14 home runs and a .977 OPS with Class A Hagerstown, but has looked his age against more advanced competition, batting .256/.329/.395 with three homers and a .724 OPS over 147 plate appearances since being promoted to Double-A Harrisburg in early July. Still, quite a debut for the 2010 No. 1 overall pick.

UPDATE: Mark Zuckerman of CSNWashington.com reports that Harper is being placed on the seven-day disabled list with Double-A Harrisburg. Not ruled out for the rest of the season yet, but it’s still highly unlikely he’ll return.

In the playoffs, the Yankees’ weakness has become their strength

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Two weeks ago, when the playoffs began, the idea of “bullpenning” once again surfaced, this time with the Yankees as a focus. Because their starting pitching was believed to be a weakness — they had no obvious ace like a Dallas Keuchel or Corey Kluber — and their bullpen was a major strength, the idea of chaining relievers together starting from the first inning gained traction. The likes of Luis Severino, who struggled mightily in the AL Wild Card game, or Masahiro Tanaka (4.79 regular season ERA) couldn’t be relied upon in the postseason, the thought went.

That idea is no longer necessary for the Yankees because the starting rotation has become the club’s greatest strength. Tanaka fired seven shutout innings to help push the Yankees ahead of the Astros in the ALCS, three games to two. They are now one win away from reaching the World Series for the first time since 2009.

It hasn’t just been Tanaka. Since Game 3 of the ALDS, Yankees pitchers have made eight starts spanning 46 1/3 innings. They have allowed 10 runs (nine earned) on 25 hits and 12 walks with 45 strikeouts. That’s a 1.75 ERA with an 8.74 K/9 and 2.33 BB/9. In five of those eight starts, the starter went at least six innings, which has helped preserve the freshness and longevity of the bullpen.

Here’s the full list of performances for Yankee starters this postseason:

Game Starter IP H R ER BB SO HR
AL WC Luis Severino 1/3 4 3 3 1 0 2
ALDS 1 Sonny Gray 3 1/3 3 3 3 4 2 1
ALDS 2 CC Sabathia 5 1/3 3 4 2 3 5 0
ALDS 3 Masahiro Tanaka 7 3 0 0 1 7 0
ALDS 4 Luis Severino 7 4 3 3 1 9 2
ALDS 5 CC Sabathia 4 1/3 5 2 2 0 9 0
ALCS 1 Masahiro Tanaka 6 4 2 2 1 3 0
ALCS 2 Luis Severino 4 2 1 1 2 0 1
ALCS 3 CC Sabathia 6 3 0 0 4 5 0
ALCS 4 Sonny Gray 5 1 2 1 2 4 0
ALCS 5 Masahiro Tanaka 7 3 0 0 1 8 0
TOTAL 55 1/3 35 20 17 20 52 6

In particular, if you hone in on the ALCS starts specifically, Yankee starters have pitched 28 innings, allowing five runs (four earned) on 13 hits and 10 walks with 20 strikeouts. That’s a 1.61 ERA.

While the Yankees’ biggest weakness has become a strength, the Astros’ biggest weakness — the bullpen — has become an even bigger weakness. This is why the Yankees, who won 10 fewer games than the Astros during the regular season, are one win away from reaching the World Series and the Astros are not.