Mark Zuckerman of CSNWashington.com reports that Bryce Harper is back in the Nationals’ starting lineup for tonight’s series opener against the Padres, three days after he crashed into the right field wall at Dodger Stadium.
Harper returned to action last night as a pinch-hitter and grounded out in the ninth inning. The 20-year-old outfield said after the game that he was feeling “terrible,” but apparently he has made some progress overnight. Harper received 11 stitches on his chin as a result of crashing into the fence and is also nursing some soreness with his rib cage, knee and shoulder. While he was experiencing nausea this week, the Nationals say that he has passed two concussion tests.
Harper is batting .300/.397/.617 with 10 home runs and 21 RBI in 36 games this season. He ranks seventh in the majors with a 1.014 OPS.
One team has punched its ticket to the Fall Classic. Two teams are looking to join them, with the Dodgers carrying the distinct advantage. Los Angeles needs only a split in the final two games of the NLCS while Milwaukee needing to win both games at home. Doable? Absolutely. But to do it, the Brewers are going to have to wake up their sleepy bats.
NLCS Game 6
Dodgers vs. Brewers
Ballpark: Miller Park
Time: 8:39 PM Eastern
Pitchers: Hyun-Jin Ryu vs Wade Miley
The Dodgers will give the ball to left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu, who tossed seven shutout innings in Game 1 of the NLDS but allowed two runs and tossed 72 pitches, failing to get out of the fifth inning, in Game 2 against Milwaukee. Even if he again turns in a short outing Dave Roberts should feel pretty confident, however, as the Dodgers’ bullpen — considered a question mark coming into this series — has allowed only three runs in in 21 and two-thirds innings of work.
For Milwaukee it’s once again Wade Miley, who was the Game 5 “starter,” but who pitched to only one batter. I suppose it’s possible that Craig Counsell will burn him like that again, but it seems more likely that Miley will actually pitch in this game rather than be used as a decoy.
As I noted the other day, though, the Brewers’ pitching gamesmanship has not really been a factor in this series. The real problem for them has been their offense. They’ve scored only 16 runs in five games while batting .219. That’s actually identical to the Dodgers’ run total and average overall, but L.A. has been better at distributing that meager offense. Milwaukee has been cold at the worst times, too, going 5-for-35 with runners in scoring position in the series, including one for their last 11. If that doesn’t change, their season ends tonight.