- The Washington Times - Monday, September 25, 2017

Bryce Harper is getting close.

The Washington Nationals star has been participating in simulated games and batting practice recently, according to multiple reports. This was in addition to the running and throwing Harper had done before the Nationals left for a nine-game road trip.

Harper’s activity begs the question: will he return for the Nationals’ series against the Phillies? Washington begins a three-game series Monday against Philadelphia.

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Harper has missed 40 games since suffering a bone bruise and calf strain on Aug. 12, when he slipped on a wet base.

Now, with a week left in the regular season, is that enough time to get Harper up to speed for the playoffs?

Nationals player to watch

For the reasons listed above, it’s Harper. An interesting aspect of Harper’s return, however, will be what lineups manager Dusty Baker decides to use. When Harper was healthy, he batted third with Ryan Zimmerman, Daniel Murphy and Anthony Rendon behind him. Baker has been consistent with this lineup, despite the occasional argument that Rendon should bat second.

Pitching matchups

Monday: A.J. Cole vs. Aaron Nola

Tuesday: Gio Gonzalez vs. Jake Thompson

Wednesday: Tanner Roark vs. Mark Leiter

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