The Nationals were officially eliminated from postseason play on Saturday when the Mets beat the Reds in Cincinnati to clinch the NL East title. On Sunday, things in Washington went from bad to worse.
Bryce Harper began exchanging words with Jonathan Papelbon on his way back into the Nationals’ dugout after a lazy flyout to left field in the bottom of the eighth inning. The two then had a physical confrontation, with multiple Nationals players and coaches having to step in to break it up.
Papelbon was the one who made it physical. This picture shows him putting Harper, the soon-to-be NL MVP, into a chokehold …
The full scene, via MLB.com …
Harper was removed from the 4-4 game by Nationals manager Matt Williams. Papelbon came back out for the top of the ninth after securing the final out in the top of the eighth. He allowed a two-run homer to Andres Blanco in the ninth, giving the last-place Phillies a 6-4 lead at Nationals Park.
The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reports that the Mets and free agent reliever Brad Brach have agreed on a one-year deal worth $850,000. The contract includes a player option for the 2021 season with a base salary of $1.25 million and additional performance incentives.
Brach, 33, signed as a free agent with the Cubs this past February. After posting an ugly 6.13 ERA over 39 2/3 innings, the Cubs released him in early August. The Mets picked him up shortly thereafter. Brach’s performance improved, limiting opposing hitters to six runs on 15 hits and three walks with 15 strikeouts in 14 2/3 innings through the end of the season.
While Brach will add some much-needed depth to the Mets’ bullpen, his walk rate has been going in the wrong direction for the last three seasons. It went from eight percent in 2016 to 9.5, 9.7, and 12.8 percent from 2017-19. Needless to say the Mets are hoping that trend starts heading in the other direction next season.