Michael Morse left the Nationals' game against the Cubs today after getting hit on the left elbow with a pitch, and if he's got anything more than a bruise, the Nationals' offense could be in bad shape for the rest of the season.
It's no stretch to say that Morse has become one of the most dangerous hitters in the National League this season, ranking third in the NL with a .320 batting average and blasting 20 home runs. He has played solid defense at first base, too, and has worked his way into the Nationals' future plans, either at first base or in left field.
He was drilled in the left forearm with a pitch earlier this season, and missed several games, but it appeared worse on Thursday; Morse kept his arm bent all the way to the dugout while walking off the field with a trainer.
If Morse misses an extended amount of time, the Nationals would have to go searching for a first baseman; he's started all but one game at the position since taking over for Adam LaRoche on May 22. The Nationals could call up Chris Marrero, who's had an impressive season at Triple-A Syracuse, hitting .307/.382/.466 with 14 homers and 65 RBI. It's likely they'll take a look at Marrero when the rosters expand at the end of the month, anyway, and Morse's injury, if it's serious, could give them a longer period of evaluation.
But Morse has clearly been the Nationals' most dangerous hitter this season, having a breakout year after getting his first chance to play full-time. He's helped rejuvenate a lineup that has struggled all season, and if he's out, the Nationals' offense would absorb a devastating blow.