Phyllis star Bryce Harper suffered a fracture to the thumb of his left hand on a hit-by-pitch on Saturday night, requiring an immediate injury list. He underwent further tests over the past two days to determine the next steps in his treatment, and it appears that the ruling NL MVP is likely to go under the knife.
Scott Lober of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports that Harper is expected to “need surgery” to repair the fracture. This process does not end his season, but Lober suggests it will take at least two months. Although Harper avoids surgery in a (seemingly unlikely) situation, according to the investigator, he is seeing an absence of at least four to six weeks.
On the one hand, it’s exciting to hear that Harper is expected to return this season even if he has to undergo the procedure. Still, he is likely to go for surgery that will take him eight to more weeks, which is clearly a brutal blow for a Philadelphia club that has yet to make a strong claim to the playoff spot. The Phils were 39-35 in Monday’s game, playing behind the Cardinals’ half for the final National League wild card spot (the Giants also had a game on them).
Despite another stellar year from Harper, it’s not a solid but excellent performance. He is hitting .318 / .385 / .599 15 home runs by 275 plate appearances, a crime that checks 66 percent of the league average by a measure of wRC +. Not far from last season’s 170 points that made him the second MVP of his career. Harper has been dropped as the designated hitter for most of the season due to his UCL tear in his throwing corner, but he remains one of the most productive offensive players in the game.
Off-season signers Nick Castellanos and Kyle Schwarber will split the time between a corner outfield spot and DH, not Harper’s work. Phils called back Mickey Monique over the weekend to join Odbel Herrera and Matt Wearling as other options for interim captain Rob Thomson. Philadelphia gave Oscar Mercado a waiver from parents this afternoon to add a center field-capable depth player to the mix. Mercado has pursued a bold rookie of 2019 that has shown up on the plate with a trio of subpar season that drove him out of the Cleveland roster.
Mercado’s claim will certainly not prevent the Phils from addressing the outfield in the next five-plus weeks. Centerfield was likely to be a target area even before Harper’s injury, and perhaps losing the star slugger at the end of August would increase the club’s urgency for other upgrades. Andrew Benintendi, Anthony Santander, Michael A. Taylor, David Peralta, Tommy Pham and, if the Mariners don’t ship right next week, Mitch Hannigar are among the hosts of outfielders who could be available in the deadline.