Washington Nationals: What Is The Biggest Playoff Storyline?

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Sep 23, 2016; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Washington Nationals manager Dusty Baker (12) reacts at the batting cage before playing the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 23, 2016; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Washington Nationals manager Dusty Baker (12) reacts at the batting cage before playing the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /
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Washington Nationals
May 4, 2016; Kansas City, MO, USA; Washington Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper (34) hits a solo home run against the Kansas City Royals during the fifth inning at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports /

Harper Needs To Get Back On Track

Last season, Bryce Harper was arguably the best player in all of Major League Baseball. This postseason, he will go into October with more questions than ever before. Despite his three-hit game last night in Pittsburgh, the Washington Nationals right fielder is hitting .203 in September with one home run and seven RBI’s.

Ever since that May 8 game in Chicago when Harper walked six times, the reigning NL MVP has not looked like the player he was a season ago. As Tom Verducci wrote on SI.com this week, Harper has been bothered by injury:

"The Nationals and Harper have been tight-lipped about his condition. But last Saturday, Baker admitted to me “the shoulder thing” has bothered the reigning NL MVP. He’s simply not the same hitter, and you can see it clearly the way pitchers consistently beat him on fastballs away."

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This Washington Nationals lineup does have depth, but they need Harper to hit some clutch home runs and drive in runs when the team needs it the most. Back in 2014, Harper was the superstar in that NLDS series against the Giants (.294, three home runs, four RBI’s).

If the Washington Nationals do face the Dodgers in the NLDS, Harper will face a team that he went 5-for-24 against this season, but three of those hits were home runs. While he does have a home run against likely Game 1 starter Clayton Kershaw, Harper is 1-for-15 against him with ten strikeouts in his career.

Next: Gonzalez Sets Off Alarm Bells Pitching

While this lineup will benefit from having a postseason hero like Murphy in the lineup, the Washington Nationals will need Harper to snap out of his slump if they want to have prolonged success in the postseason.

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