Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper has been held out of the lineup for Monday night’s game against the Diamondbacks as he’s still dealing with discomfort in his left thumb. Harper slid awkwardly into third base on a triple hit on Sunday afternoon because Pirates third baseman Jung Ho Kang faked a tag. Harper suffered the thumb injury as a result, and the Nationals retaliated as A.J. Cole threw a fastball behind Kang in the ensuing inning, causing both benches and bullpens to spill out onto the field.
Harper underwent X-rays on Monday. Per Barry Svrluga of The Washington Post, GM Mike Rizzo said of Harper’s thumb injury, “We’re anticipating that it’s not going to be serious.”
Though the Nationals have already clinched the NL East, the club is still fighting for something of importance: home field advantage in the NL Division Series against the Dodgers. The Nationals currently hold a 1.5-game lead over the Dodgers for that privilege. Losing Harper, even just for a game, could turn out to be a big deal.
Harper, 23, heads into the final week of the regular season batting .244/.375/.444 with 24 home runs, 85 RBI, 83 runs scored, and 21 stolen bases in 614 plate appearances.
Matt Spiegel of 670 The Score Chicago heard from a source that Major League Baseball executives have been discussing a 100-game season that would begin on July 1 and conclude on October 15. It would essentially pick up the second half schedule, eliminating the All-Star Game while hosting the World Series at a neutral warm-weather stadium — ideally Dodger Stadium.
In the event the Dodgers, who won 106 games last year, made it all the way through the playoffs, the World Series would be hosted in Anaheim or San Diego. The earlier rounds of the playoffs would be played in the cities of the teams involved, which might be tough since the postseason would extend into November.
Spiegel went on to describe this vision as “an absolute best case scenario,” and that’s accurate. In order for the regular season to begin on July 1, the players would need to have several weeks if not a full month prior to get back into playing shape — more or less an abbreviated second spring training. And that would mean the U.S. having made significant progress against the virus by way of herd immunity or a vaccine, which would allow for nonessential businesses to resume operations. The U.S., sadly, is faring not so well compared to other nations around the world for a variety of reasons, but all of which point to a return to normalcy by the summer seeming rather unlikely.
Regardless, the league does have to plan for the potential of being able to start the regular season this summer just in case things really do break right and offer that opportunity. Commissioner Rob Manfred has stated multiple times about the league’s need to be creative, referring to ideas like playing deep into the fall, changing up the location of games, playing without fans in attendance, etc. This rumor certainly fits the “creative” mold.