Last night’s eighth inning home run by Washington Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper was something the reigning NL MVP desperately needed
Going into last night’s game against the Philadelphia Phillies, Washington Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper wasn’t having the best month of September. He was hitting .259 with two RBI’s and had only two extra-bits in 27 at-bats. Then, in last night’s game, Harper was the hero with his game-winning three-run home run to right against Patrick Schuster in the eighth.
For the first three at-bats last night, Harper looked lost against Phillies starter Jerad Eickhoff. Out of the 13 pitches Eickhoff threw him last night, nine of them were offspeed pitches. Plus, Eickhoff was able to finish off all three strikeouts with a curveball.
During this season, the curveball has been a tough pitch to hit for the reigning National League MVP. Out of his 24 home runs this season, only four of them have come on a breaking ball according to Brooks Baseball. That fourth one came last night when the lights shone the brightest.
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In the bottom of the eighth, Harper came up with two on and one out against the left-handed Schuster. In that at-bat, Harper took some close pitches and eventually hit a 3-1 breaking ball over the wall in right as he drove in the lone Washington Nationals runs of the night.
This season, Harper hasn’t had a high batting average in late inning situations. His .239 average in the seventh inning or later is the fourth lowest among players on the Washington Nationals with 100+ at-bats in those spots. That being said, his seven home runs are tied with Wilson Ramos for second on the team, one behind Danny Espinosa and Jayson Werth.
Last night’s home run was one that Harper definitely needed for his confidence going forward, especially if you go by the bat flip and fist pump he gave after he hit the ball. As the season winds down, Harper will be relied upon big time in the postseason, especially if the offense has to help out a rotation that isn’t fully healthy at the moment.
While it hasn’t been a MVP caliber season for Harper, he has still put up some great numbers in 2016, especially against the Phillies (.275, four home runs, 13 RBI’s). Last night’s home run was the first Harper hit in a game since August 28 against the Rockies (11 games).
After last night, Washington Nationals fans are hoping that home run sparks Harper to go on a power surge as the regular season comes to a close. If the Nats want to make a deep run in October, they will need Harper to be one of the big contributors to that run.