Bryce Harper might need thumb surgery

Bryce Harper might need thumb surgery

Phillies star Bryce Harper fractured his left thumb in a knockout on Saturday night, a development that required an immediate move to the injured list. He has undergone further tests over the past two days to determine the next steps in his treatment, and it looks like the reigning NL MVP is likely to go under the knife.

Scott Lauber of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports that Harper “should need surgery” to repair the fracture. That procedure wouldn’t necessarily end his season, but Lauber says it would cost him at least two months. Even in the (seemingly unlikely) scenario where Harper avoids surgery, he’s looking at a minimum four to six week absence, according to the Inquirer.

On the one hand, it’s encouraging to hear that Harper plans to make a comeback this season even if he has to undergo surgery. Still, the development that he’s likely heading for surgery that will cost him more than eight weeks is obviously a brutal blow for a Philadelphia club that has yet to claim a playoff spot. The Phils come into play Monday with a 39-35 record, putting them a game and a half behind the Cardinals for the last Wild Card spot in the National League (the Giants are also a game above them).

This solid but not great performance was despite another stellar year from Harper. He’s hitting .318/.385/.599 with 15 homers in 275 plate appearances, an offense that’s 66 percentage points above the league average based on wRC+. That’s not far off the 170 mark from last season that resulted in his second career MVP. Playing through a UCL tear in his pitching elbow relegated Harper to designated hitter status for much of the season, but he remained one of the sport’s most productive offensive players.

Off-season signatories Nick Castellanos and Kyle Schwarber will split time between an outside corner spot and DH while Harper is out of action. The Phils recalled Mickey Moniac the weekend to join Odubel Herrera and Matt Vierling as other options for interim skipper Rob Thomson. Philadelphia caught Oscar Mercado off waivers from the Guardians this afternoon to add a depth player capable of playing in the center of the field. Mercado followed a strong rookie in 2019 with a trio of below-the-plate seasons that ultimately ousted him from Cleveland’s roster.

Claiming Mercado certainly won’t stop the Phils from attacking the outfield more over the next five weeks. Center field was likely to be a target area even before Harper’s injury, and likely losing the star slugger through late August only heightens the club’s urgency for further upgrades. André Benintendi, Anthony Santander, Michael A. Taylor, David Peralta, Tommy Pham and, if the Mariners do not right the ship in the coming weeks, Mitch Hanigerare among the host of outfielders who may be available at the deadline.

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