Bryce Harper can’t escape Hunter Strickland as reliever signs with Mets

Matt Weyrich
NBC Sports Washington

Hunter Strickland is back in the NL East after signing a minor-league deal with the New York Mets, the club announced Tuesday.

The 31-year-old reliever was acquired by the Nationals at the trade deadline but struggled down the stretch to the tune of a 5.14 ERA over 24 appearances before allowing three home runs in two NLDS games last October. He reported to West Palm Beach for spring training but was cut by the team shortly after the coronavirus pandemic put the season on hold.

Strickland's history with Washington dates back to 2014, when he allowed two home runs to then-Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper in the NLDS. He harbored his frustration with Harper, who took his time leaving the batter's box after each blast, for three years before inciting a brawl by burying a fastball in his lower back.

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Harper, now with the Philadelphia Phillies, told Barstool Sports' podcast Starting 9 in May that there's no bad blood left between them.

"It was definitely was where I was like, ‘OK, well three years goes down the road like c'mon, man. You got a World Series ring with it,'" Harper said. "But for him to come back, I respect him for the pure fact of him hitting me in the butt. Because he could've came up and in and hit me in the head or anything like that. He just wanted to fight…I enjoy that and after that it was squashed, it was done."

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Nevertheless, Strickland and Harper are once again in the same division. If Strickland works his way onto the Mets' roster, any matchup between the two will be one worth watching.

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Bryce Harper cant escape Hunter Strickland as reliever signs with Mets originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

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