Phillies star Bryce Harper broke his left thumb in a hit-by-pitch on Saturday night, a development that necessitated an immediate stay on the injured list. He has been subjected to further tests over the past two days to determine the next steps in his treatment and it seems like the reigning NL MVP is likely to be put under the knife.
Scott Lauber of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports that Harper will “probably need surgery” to repair the fracture. That procedure wouldn’t necessarily end his season, but Lauber states it would take him at least two months. Even in the (seemingly unlikely) scenario where Harper avoids surgery, he expects to be absent for at least four to six weeks, according to the Inquirer.
On the one hand, it’s heartening to hear that Harper expects to return this season, even if he has to undergo surgery. The development that he is likely headed for surgery that will cost him more than eight weeks obviously comes as a brutal blow to a Philadelphia club that has not yet made strong claims to a playoff berth. The Phils come into play Monday with a 39-35 record, placing them a game and a half behind the Cardinals for the last National League wild card berth (with the Giants also sitting a game above them).
This solid, but not outstanding, performance was despite another outstanding year from Harper. He’s hitting .318/.385/.599 on 15 home runs through 275 plate appearances, an offense that checks in 66 percentage points above the league average by wRC+. That’s not far from last season’s 170 mark, which resulted in his second career MVP. Playing through a UCL tear in his throwing arm relegated Harper to batsman-designate for much of the season, but he has remained one of the sport’s most prolific attacking players.
Off-season signers Nick Castellanos and Kyle Schwarber will split time between a corner point in outfield and DH while Harper is out of action. The Phils remembered Mickey Monica participate over the weekend Odubel Herrera and Matthew Vierling as further options for interim skipper Rob Thomson. Philadelphia grabbed it Oscar Mercado Forgo the Guardians’ waivers this afternoon to add a midfield-capable depth player to the mix. Mercado continued a solid rookie performance from 2019 with a trio of underperforming seasons on the plate that eventually knocked him out of Cleveland’s roster.
Claiming Mercado certainly won’t stop the Phils from continuing to address the outfield over the next five-plus weeks. Midfield was likely a target area even before Harper’s injury and the star-slugger’s likely loss by the end of August only increases the club’s urgency for other upgrades. Andreas Benintendi, Anthony Santander, Michael A Taylor, David Peralta, Tommy Pham and if the Mariners don’t fix the ship in the coming weeks, Mitch Hanigerare among the many outfield players who could be available by deadline date.