Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper has not been able to get on track in the National League Division Series against tough St. Louis pitching. He has gone 1-for-18 in four games with a double in Game 2.
He has struck out six times.
Harper is a perfectionist and focuses more and more when he struggles. Manager Davey Johnson said before Game 5 that may not be the best strategy.
"With Bryce, when he doesn't do something spectacular, he tries harder," Johnson said. "And trying harder is not always better. That is part of learning how you handle situations."
Johnson said it wasn't easy to see the ball with the day start times at Busch Stadium in Games 1 and 2, so that didn't help Harper when he started the series.
"Well, knowing Bryce, the conditions in St. Louis were very tough. Pitch recognition was tough in the shadows," the manager said.
Johnson said Harper has played well the whole season, and these four games are just part of his experience as a rookie. All of it will help Harper.
"He has done great," Johnson said. "(In) the tension of a pennant race in September, he played like a veteran. He still expects a lot of great things out of himself."
But Johnson knows that Harper wants so badly to do well, he sometimes tries to make something happen and it might not be the right pitch.
"Even one ballgame, if it doesn't go (well) and he doesn't do a lot of good things, he just tries harder and expands the zone," Johnson said. "He has had four games now, he should be calmed down, He will be all right."