CSN Washington’s Mark Zuckerman suggests that Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper could return to the team on Monday, the final day of June. Harper will play seven innings in right field in tonight’s game, then will play a full nine in center on Friday. Following an off-day on Saturday, Harper will play in left field on Sunday. The Nationals will gauge his progress from there.
Harper has been on the disabled list since April 26 after suffering a torn UCL in his left thumb on a head-first slide. Up until the injury, Harper had slashed .289/.352/.422 with one home run and nine RBI in 91 plate appearances. Getting Harper back would be a boost for the Nationals, who enter Thursday’s action with a tenuous one-game first place lead in the NL East.
Dodgers catcher Yasmani Grandal has not had a good postseason. Entering Monday night’s NLCS Game 3, he was batting .111/.238/.278 in 21 trips to the plate across the NLDS and the first two games of the NLCS.
Defense has also been an issue for Grandal. In Game 1 of the NLCS, Grandal was on the hook for two passed balls. In the sixth inning of Game 3 Monday night, he couldn’t corral a curve in the dirt, which allowed Travis Shaw to score the Brewers’ second run of the night. Starter Walker Buehler was charged with a wild pitch. In the eighth, with Ryan Braun on first base and Shaw at the plate, Grandal again couldn’t corral a pitch in the dirt, allowing Braun to move to second base. Fortunately for the Dodgers, Alex Wood was able to escape the inning with no damage.
Manager Dave Roberts said that Austin Barnes, not Grandal, will start behind the plate for Game 4 on Tuesday night, Andy McCullough of the Los Angeles Times reports. That comes as no surprise at all. When Grandal struck out with the bases loaded in the ninth inning, Dodger fans regaled him with boos.
Barnes will be an upgrade defensively, but he’s lacking with the bat. He had an 0-for-3 performance in Game 2, though with an RBI, bringing his career slash line in the playoffs to .200/.281/.300 across 57 plate appearances. During the regular season, his career 100 adjusted OPS is a fair bit behind Grandal’s 115. Roberts is trading offense for defense in Game 4. Rich Hill will get the start opposite the Brewers’ Gio González.