As if the NL MVP race wasn’t already decided …
Bryce Harper slugged his 40th home run of the season on an 0-1 pitch from Phillies reliever Justin De Fratus on Wednesday night at Citizens Bank Park, pushing the Nationals’ lead over the host Phils to 8-2.
Harper is one of seven players in major league history to reach 40 home runs in his age-22 season or younger. The others: Alex Rodriguez, Juan Gonzalez, Johnny Bench, Eddie Mathews, Joe DiMaggio, and Mel Ott.
Joe Kelly entered his start Tuesday night in Baltimore having registered a 7-0 record and 1.85 ERA over his last seven starts, but his velocity readings were troubling right away and the right-hander was lifted in the bottom of the third inning after reporting tightness in his throwing shoulder and general arm fatigue.
Kelly flew back to Boston on Wednesday for a full evaluation from the Red Sox medical staff. He is done for the rest of the season no matter what the doctors find, per WEEI’s Rob Bradford.
Kelly had been showing signs of development in the second half, but the 27-year-old will finish up the 2015 campaign with a rough 4.82 ERA, 1.44 WHIP, and 110/49 K/BB ratio in 134 1/3 total innings.
He had a 3.25 ERA in 266 innings with the Cardinals before getting sent to Boston last July.
Twins closer Glen Perkins hasn’t made an appearance since September 1 due to a long-lingering back injury, but he made it through a 36-pitch bullpen session Wednesday without issue and he expects to be available out of the Minnesota bullpen for Friday’s series opener against the Angels.
That news comes from beat writer Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
Kevin Jepsen has been the primary ninth-inning fill-in for the Twins, who currently sit 1 1/2 games back of the Astros in the American League Wild Card chase.
Perkins, 32, owns a 2.68 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, and 46/8 K/BB ratio in 50 1/3 innings this season.
He is also 32-for-34 in save opportunities.