The Nationals are close to full strength for tonight’s series finale against the NL East-leading Braves.
According to Mark Zuckerman of CSNWashington.com, Bryce Harper and Jayson Werth are back in the starting lineup. Harper will bat third while Werth will hit cleanup against right-hander Kris Medlen.
Harper left last night’s game in the sixth inning after he aggravated a bruise on his left side on a check-swing. He originally suffered the injury Tuesday night when he crashed into the outfield fence while trying to catch a home run off the bat of Tim Hudson. However, he was cleared to return after he made it through batting practice this afternoon without incident.
Werth has missed the last two games after he fouled a ball off his left ankle on Monday. He also has been dealing with some hamstring tightness. While he told Zuckerman prior to batting practice that the ankle still feels “pretty stiff,” he’s going to give it a go.
Every now and then, The Players’ Tribune runs a “five toughest” feature. In 2015, David Ortiz listed the five toughest pitchers he ever faced. Last month, Christian Yelich wrote up the five toughest pitchers in the NL East. Now, it’s Ian Kinsler‘s turn with the five toughest pitchers in the AL Central.
Kinsler goes into detail explaining why each pitcher is difficult to face, so hop over to The Players’ Tribune for his reasoning. His list
Presumably, Kinsler intentionally omitted his Tiger teammates from the list. He has faced Justin Verlander a fair amount earlier in his career, and he has only a .176/.333/.235 batting line in 42 plate appearances against the right-hander. Verlander’s stuff is often described as tough to hit in one phrase or another. Kinsler has also struggled against Indians starter Carlos Carrasco (.590 OPS), but one can understand why he would be omitted from a list of five given who was already listed.
Angels first baseman C.J. Cron hit a grand slam against the Mets on Sunday, but it wasn’t enough to keep his spot on the major league roster as the club announced his demotion to Triple-A Salt Lake on Monday. Infielder Nolan Fantana has been promoted from Salt Lake.
Cron, 27, was hitting a disappointing .232/.281/.305 with one home run and RBI in 90 plate appearances. I guess you can say that wasn’t the kind of Cron job the Angels were expecting. Cron was an above-average hitter in each of his first three seasons, finishing with an OPS+, or adjusted OPS, of 111, 106, and 115 (100 is average).
While Cron is figuring things out in the minors, Luis Valbuena, Jefry Marte, and Albert Pujols could each see some time at first base.