Bryce Harper was stuck on 19 home runs for 16 games, while the 25-year-old struggled in a rough stretch in which he couldn’t get things going at the plate.
Harper hit 10 in 26 games in May, but had just one in 23 games in June before he stepped to the plate against hard-throwing Philadelphia Phillies’ righty Yacksel Rios and hit a 98 mph 0-1 fastball out to center field in Citizens Bank Park for a three-run blast in the fourth inning of last night’s game.
In his last 10 games, Harper is now 9 for 31 (.290/.465/.613) with seven doubles, a home run, 11 walks and nine Ks in 43 plate appearances.
Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo told 106.7 the FAN in D.C.’s Sports Junkies on Thursday that he saw signs that Harper was starting to turn things around offensively.
“I’ve been watching it for the last couple weeks,” Rizzo said. “I think that he’s staying in the strike zone more often, and I think that’s a key to him, and I think another key to him is that if the pitch is in the strike zone that he’s putting good swings on it.
“Like I’ve said before, a healthy Bryce is going to get his numbers and I feel confident that his best days this season are ahead of him and I think that bodes well for our offense in general.”
Nats’ skipper Davey Martinez told reporters in Philadelphia he thought getting his NL-leading 20th home run of 2018 (tied with Nolan Arenado) might help Harper put his struggles behind him.
“I think getting that 20th home run really helps,” Martinez said, “and he got it out of the way, and hopefully we move forward.
“He had great at bats today, took his walks, got some pitches in the strike zone, missed one ball, but had really good swings all day.”
Harper has hits in six of his last eight games going into this afternoon’s matchup with the Phillies. Will he get back to where the Nationals need him to be offensively?
Tune in at 6:05 PM EDT to see.