Philadelphia Phillies slugger and reigning NL MVP Bryce Harper suffered a fractured left thumb Saturday night against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park (GameTracker). Harper took a 97 mph Blake Snell fastball to the hand and exited the game immediately. The Phillies announced the fracture soon thereafter and say Harper will undergo additional tests in the coming days. They did not provide a timetable for his recovery.
Here’s video of the errant pitch. Snell apologized and, although in obvious pain and understandably upset, Harper appeared to tell Snell he knows he didn’t hit him intentionally as he walked off the field.
Harper has been limited to DH duty most of the season by an elbow ligament injury. Nonetheless, he was having a fantastic season, and took a .320/.385/.602 batting line with 21 doubles and 15 home runs into Saturday’s game. He ranks seventh in baseball in extra-base hits (37) and eighth in total bases (145). Simply put, Harper is irreplaceable.
In the interim, the Phillies figure to have Kyle Schwarber or Nick Castellanos share DH duty with the more defensively competent Matt Vierling seeing steadier playing time in the outfield. Mickey Moniak, the No. 1 pick in the 2016 draft, is hitting .279/.326/.558 in Triple-A and could get a look. Of course, the Phillies could make a trade depending on the length of Harper’s recovery.
Needless to say, losing Harper for any length of time is a devastating blow for a Phillies team trying to climb into the postseason mix. They are 15-6 since replacing manager Joe Girardi with bench coach Rob Thomson earlier this month. Among National League teams, only the Atlanta Braves (18-4) have a better record in the league during that time.
Even with the post-Girardi hot streak, the Phillies came into Saturday three games behind the third and final wild card spot. FanGraphs puts their postseason odds at 29.7 percent. The Phillies have not been to the postseason since 2011 and have the NL’s longest postseason drought.