The facial expression that Yankees right-hander Masahiro Tanaka had talking about his Friday night double-hamstring injury was telling.
He looked worried.
He also admitted still feeling sore after a Yankees’ 4-1 win over the Mets in which he was forced to leave after getting hurt scoring from third base on a game-tying, sixth-inning sacrifice fly.
Yairo Munoz (R), 4 percent, St. Louis Cardinals at Milwaukee Brewers (RHP Chase Anderson): Munoz doesn’t have the platoon advantage here, but that’s not a bad thing. While the rookie is batting just.160 against southpaws, he’s hitting.305 versus righties. He heads to the hitter-friendly Miller Park, where he’ll square off against Anderson and his 5.91 ERA since May 1.
Greg Bird (L), 35 percent, New York Yankees at Tampa Bay Rays (RHP Wilmer Font): You’re looking for upside when streaming batters, and Bird certainly brings that to the table. While he’s yet to really get going this season, he’s whacked 23 homers in 382 career at-bats, showcasing his high-end power potential. He may get only an at-bat or two against Font on Saturday, but that could be enough (.446 wOBA allowed to lefty batters).
Despite his recent struggles, Harper will no doubt find plenty of suitors when he hits the open market, including deep-pocketed teams such as the Yankees and Phillies.
Harper, for his part, is doing his best to prevent his impending free agency from getting inside his head, per the Washington Post:
I’m like, ‘I don’t think about it,’ Harper said of the conversation. I really don’t. Me, personally, it doesn’t really bother me.
As for his hitting problems this season, Harper feels like he has a beat on what’s wrong and what he needs to change:
The past couple weeks, I’ve just chased out of the zone a little too much, Harper said. The biggest thing I see in myself is really just swinging at pitcher’s pitches. There’s times where I’m on the corner and a strike is called, and then I chase something else and dig my own hole. I’ve got to work to get my pitches to hit.
Harper still leads the National League with 19 home runs this season.