Phillies outfielder Bryce Harper reached two career milestones with one swing on Wednesday night against the Braves. He just wishes it happened under better circumstances. In the sixth inning, Harper put the Phillies on the board with a solo home run off of Bryse Wilson, notching both his 1,000th career hit and 200th career home run.
The homer made it a 3-1 game and the Phillies would add another one in the inning. However, the Braves would tag Nick Pivetta and Juan Nicasio for six runs in the bottom half of the frame to take a commanding 9-2 lead.
Harper is hitting .248/.364/.473 with 16 home runs, 60 RBI, and 51 runs scored in 374 plate appearances on the season. He’s on pace for 705 PA, which also puts him on pace for 30 homers, 113 RBI, and 96 runs scored. His rate stats still aren’t where they should be, but his counting stats are there at least.
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.