The Nationals placed right fielder Bryce Harper on the 10-day disabled list with a “significant bone bruise” in his left knee, the team announced Sunday. Harper sustained the injury in the first inning of Saturday’s series opener against the Giants after slipping on first base and hyperextending his left knee. Nationals’ general manager Mike Rizzo told reporters that he doesn’t believe the injury is season-ending, but doesn’t have a clear timetable in mind for Harper’s recovery just yet.
While Harper’s loss is a blow to the Nationals’ lineup, it’s certainly not the worst-case scenario for their star hitter. An MRI failed to reveal any tendon or ligament damage, and it doesn’t look like the injury will have an adverse effect on the outfielder’s 2018 campaign with the club. Fellow outfielder Michael Taylor (right oblique strain) was activated from the 10-day disabled list in a corresponding move and will assume Harper’s spot on the active roster for the time being. Assuming Harper doesn’t hit any snags in the rehab process, he could be looking at a return to the field sometime in mid- to late September.
Harper, 24, left Saturday’s game with a .326/.419/.614 batting line, 29 home runs and a 1.034 OPS through 472 PA in 2017. This is his first stint on the disabled list since 2014.
Some good news for the Nationals today: All-Star hurler Max Scherzer is due back from the injured list this week, this time (hopefully) for good. He’s slated to start during Thursday’s series finale against the Pirates.
It’s been a long road back for the right-hander, who earned his seventh consecutive All-Star designation after heading into the break with a 2.30 ERA, 5.6 fWAR, and a league-leading 7.56 SO/BB rate. An untimely back injury forced him to the injured list in the days leading up to the All-Star Game, however, and he hasn’t returned in any kind of part-time or full-time capacity since.
While Scherzer was originally expected to pitch for the Nationals sometime during their weekend series versus the Brewers, manager Dave Martinez elected to push back his return date by a few days. It’s not clear whether he felt some lingering pain during his 64-pitch simulated start on Saturday or whether the Nationals simply want to play it safe with their ace, but either way, the club apparently feels like Scherzer will be back to full strength before the end of the week.
If so, his return would be a significant asset to the Nationals, who could use a sub-3.00 ERA, 5.0-fWAR starter to help bolster their standing in the NL East. Still, there’s no guarantee that the veteran righty is ready to shoulder a full-time role in Washington’s rotation, nor is it certain that he’ll be able to match his results from the first half of the season. In one start between IL stints last month, he dealt five innings of three-run, two-walk, eight-strikeout ball in an 8-7 loss to the Rockies.