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Washington Nationals’ lineup for series opener vs the Chicago Cubs in Wrigley Field... Bryce Harper back in

Washington and Chicago start a three-game set in Wrigley Field at 2:20 PM EDT, and Bryce Harper is back in the lineup barring another late scratch this afternoon...

MLB: NLDS-Washington Nationals at Chicago Cubs
Bryce Harper yawns at bird, because he is so over birds.
Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

Bryce Harper hit his 28th home run of the 2018 campaign in Wednesday’s loss to Atlanta in the nation’s capital, leaving him 21 for 62 (.339 AVG) with six doubles, five home runs, 10 walks, and 15 runs scored in 18 games since the All-Star Break.

That stretch took Harper from .214/.365/.468 to a .234/.378/.501 line this season, with 20 doubles, 28 HRs, and 131 wRC+ in 112 games and 490 plate appearances, over which he’s been worth 2.6 fWAR.

Washington’s pregame notes on Thursday afternoon mentioned Harper had also hit safely in seven of his last nine, with multi-hit efforts in six of those nine games, while eight of 13 hits over that stretch have been extra base hits.

The Nationals’ 25-year-old center/right fielder took a pitch to the right knee/shin in his next-to-last at bat on Wednesday, however, after he’d previous been hit in the same knee during the series with the Cincinnati Reds last weekend.

“Same spot as it did the last time,” Nats’ skipper Davey Martinez told reporters after the loss to the Braves on Wednesday night.

“He actually told me he was fine already, but we’ll see, he’s going to be sore, so I just told let me know how you feel tomorrow morning.”

Harper was originally penciled in as the Nationals’ center fielder on Thursday, but he ended up being scratched shortly after the lineup was released.

“We thought he was going to be okay,” Martinez told reporters before the finale with Atlanta, as quoted by MASN’s Byron Kerr.

“He [was] out there trying to get loose this morning and it just wouldn’t get loose. Pretty swollen still, so, rather than him try to play through it, we thought the best option would be [to] have him come off the bench if we need him and hopefully throughout the day he’ll get loose.”

Harper had X-rays taken on the knee/shin area, but they came back negative.

“It’s underneath his knee, sort of like on his shin but he couldn’t flex his ankle or anything,” Martinez said. “It’s pretty sore. That’s twice in a week. Little lower, same vicinity. He has one little bruise up here and another like (further down). It’s pretty swollen.”

Martinez said that Harper was day-to-day, but he thought he’d be available late in the finale with the Braves if he was needed, but he never did hit in what ended up a 6-3 win.

Harper is in the lineup today, for the series finale with the Chicago Cubs in Wrigley Field.