Harper’s return and a trade or two will help Nationals in second half
The Washington Nationals will have Bryce Harper back for the second half of the season.
The Nationals are currently six games behind the first place Atlanta Braves in the National League East, but hope that the return of Harper and the possibility of acquiring a player or two before the trade deadline could help their chances for a playoff berth.
Earlier this week, Harper was activated and wasted little time making his presence felt with an opposite field home run with his first at bat.
In just his second season in the majors, Harper has become one of the league’s most talented players and a key to the success for Washington.
Since Harper was called up by Washington during last season, the Nationals have a regular season record of 102-77.
Washington will need Harper to play as he did last season with an energy and passion for the game that helped to distinguish him from many of the other top players in the league.
Harper needs to get on base, steal bases and force defenses to attempt to throw him out extending singles to doubles and ground ball outs into hits.
With that aggressive plays comes the risk of being injured and that is what Harper must avoid during the second half.
He will be the most important piece of the puzzle for Washington in its second half push for the postseason, but the Nationals could also use help through a trade or two.
The Nationals could use a strong lefty out of the bullpen. Washington needs a reliever that could come in to get a single left-handed batter out late in the game to end an inning or extinguish a rally by the opposition. An example would be Oliver Perez for Seattle. He currently has an ERA of just 0.98 over 27 plus innings of work and has struck out 38 batters.
A big bat would help the Nationals as well to help protect Harper in the batting order. One big bat that would not only help the team on the field but off it as well would be Alex Rios.
Rios is currently playing for the Chicago White Sox and can play any of the outfield positions for the Nationals.
Rios is a veteran and will act as a calming influence in the clubhouse and dugout for the Nationals.
Another important acquisition for the Nationals would be a good starter that will not miss turns in the rotation.
One such starter is Ricky Nolasco. He has a proven record against NL East competition and has been played in Miami since 2006. It is almost a certainty he will be off loaded by the Marlins prior to the trade deadline.
Replacing someone in the rotation like Dan Haren, who has pitched dismally when no injured, would help the Nationals chances of reaching the playoffs.
With Harper back and the possibility of acquiring a player to two before the end of July’s trade deadline, the Nationals could well be on the road to at least a wildcard berth if not the NL East title.