Chicago Cubs could have their hands full in matchup against Washington Nationals
By Tim Stebbins
No shortage of offense on either side
Both teams have prolific offenses; the Nationals are second in the MLB in runs scored (762), while the Cubs are sixth (692). The Cubs are first in runs (293) in the second half, though, while the Nationals are fifteenth with 230.
What makes the Nationals offense extremely dangerous is their dominant middle-of-the-order. Bryce Harper (.326-29-87), Ryan Zimmerman (.302-30-91), Daniel Murphy (.318-21-87) and Anthony Rendon (.304-23-90) are as dangerous of a stretch in any MLB lineup.
There is no arguing how good the Nationals are offensively, just as there is no arguing how good the Cubs are. The Cubs set a franchise record this season with six players hitting 20 home runs or more. Having such a powerful lineup that can change a game with one swing of the bat should not go unnoticed.
Star players injured ahead of October
What might ultimately help the Cubs is the fact that Harper is injured. The star outfielder has been out since mid-August after hurting his knee stepping on a wet first-base bag during a game against the San Francisco Giants. Unfortunately for the Nationals, Harper’s return might come later rather than sooner.
At the same time, the Cubs are currently without starting shortstop Addison Russell and starting catcher Willson Contreras. Both should return in time for a potential postseason run, though. Contreras is ready to to begin a rehab assignment, and although Russell re-aggravated an injury on his own rehab assignment, a return to the Cubs at the end of September seems likely.
The Nationals are a fantastic team, but they surely would miss Harper’s superstar abilities if he is unable to play for any stretch of time in the playoffs. This is not to say that the Cubs would have an advantage over the Nationals in a potential playoff series. However, it is to say that the Nationals would be without their best player when it matters most.