The last-place Dodgers have been in desperate need of a spark for quite some time now, and they might just get it in Wednesday night's series finale against Washington.
About a month ahead of his expected return date, Zack Greinke will take the ball for the first time since he broke his left collarbone during a benches-clearing melee against San Diego on April 11.
"I'm sure there's a lot of risk every day," Greinke said about his early return. "If it makes sense, you do it. If I didn't feel ready, I wouldn't do it. If it was 50/50, you don't do it. I say it's well worth the risk we're taking."
There's no denying the effect injuries have had on the Dodgers' early-season performance. But there's also no getting around the fact that -- inujuries or not -- the Dodgers have dug themselves a big hole in a competitive National League West.
Opposite Greinke will be Nationals left-hander Ross Detwiler, who has been sharp this season, but hasn't always gotten the results to show for it. He has posted a 2.53 ERA but doing so has gotten him just two wins.
In his most recent start, Detwiler went 6 2/3 innings and allowed two runs against the Cubs last Friday. He mixed in a consistent curveball for the first time this year.
The Nats remain a game back of Atlanta in the NL East race after neither club could muster a run on Tuesday night.
Greinke, meanwhile, hasn't pitched since early April, but when he did, he was sharp. He has made two starts for the Dodgers -- 6 1/3 scoreless frames against Pittsburgh on April 5 and five innings of two-run ball against the Padres.
Of course, that was the game in which Greinke was injured. The right-hander hit Carlos Quentin with a pitch and Quentin proceeded to charge the mound, colliding with Greinke and knocking the Dodgers' $147 million man out for more than a month.
"I don't know how long it will take to be 100 percent crisp, but I feel good throwing all my pitches," Greinke said Tuesday. "Stuff is coming out crisp, nothing is holding me back. I'm ready to go."
Nationals: Harper queasy after collision
• Outfielder Bryce Harper was out of the starting lineup Tuesday and his status remains in question for Wednesday's series finale.
Harper crashed into the right-field wall on Monday night and received 11 stitches on his chin. He also jammed his shoulder and woke up Tuesday with soreness in his legs, ribs, wrist and hand.
"I got the stitches, and I feel kind of crappy today," Harper said Tuesday. "I don't think I should go out there right now with how I'm feeling today. I'm feeling a little nauseous. That's the only thing that is holding me out of the lineup. The soreness and stuff is part of the game. You could play through that. If I wasn't feeling so nauseous, I would be in the lineup."
Dodgers: Kemp, Gonzalez streaking
• Center fielder Matt Kemp is riding a 13-game hitting streak, tied with Minnesota's Joe Mauer and San Francisco's Marco Scutaro for the longest active mark. He is hitting .315 since it began.
First baseman Adrian Gonzalez, meanwhile, had his 10-gamer snapped with an 0-for-3 performance Tuesday.
• Both Ted Lilly and Scott Elbert will pitch Wednesday for Class A Rancho Cucamonga in a rehab game. Lilly is on the DL with a strained rib cage and and Elbert is recovering from offseason elbow surgery.
• Nats outfielder Denard Span is hitting .320 with a double, a triple and four RBIs in 25 career at-bats against Greinke.
• No Dodgers hitter has double-digit at-bats against Detwiler. Kemp and Andre Ethier are each 3-for-9 against him.
• Since 2006, the Dodgers are 18-4 at home against Washington.