Bryce Harper and Jayson Werth back in Thursday’s lineup

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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.

Report: Jose Altuve underwent right knee surgery on Friday

Jose Altuve
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Astros’ star second baseman José Altuve underwent surgery on his right knee, MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart reports. Neither the specifics of the surgery nor a concrete timetable for the infielder’s recovery have been officially confirmed by the club yet.

Altuve, 28, suffered the injury in July after he jammed his knee on a close play at third base. Even after he completed an initial 3.5-week stint on the 10-day disabled list, chronic knee pain continued to dog him in the months that followed. As manager A.J. Hinch told reporters on Thursday, he would have held the second baseman out of the lineup under any other circumstances, but instead chose to commend Altuve for showing up and pushing through the pain as the Astros tried for a repeat championship title this postseason.

Per McTaggart, the Astros expect Altuve to make a full recovery by spring. The perennial All-Star infielder finished his 2018 run with a .316/.386/.451 batting line, 13 home runs, and an .837 OPS through 599 plate appearances. He fared slightly worse during Houston’s ALDS and ALCS campaigns, slashing .265/.324/.412 with three extra-base hits over 37 PA. The Astros were eliminated by the Red Sox during Thursday’s 4-1 loss in ALCS Game 5.