Bryce Harper missed 52 games during a crucial stretch and the Philadelphia Phillies still reached the World Series.
It’s clear that the Phillies can survive without their Most Valuable Player.
Harper will miss a chunk of the 2023 regular season.
How long? That’s anyone’s best guess. We’ll know more next Wednesday.
Harper will have his torn UCL in his right elbow surgically repaired in Los Angeles. It could be Tommy John surgery.
Depending on what the surgeon finds, that will determine how long Harper will be sidelined. It’s hopeful that Harper could return as the designated hitter sometime in June or July.
In any case, expect Harper to miss more games than he did last season.
“Everybody’s ligament is different on where it could be torn and how much of a tear it is,” Phillies President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski said at a press conference earlier in the week. “Until we get in there, we’re really not sure.”
Amazingly, Harper hit .286 with 18 home runs and 65 RBI in 99 games despite the UCL and a fractured left thumb.
In the postseason, Harper carried the Phillies with six homers, 13 RBI and a .349 average. He was the MVP of the National League Championship Series and his home run off Robert Suarez will forever be etched in the minds of Phillies fans.
This free agency period will be monumental for the Phillies.
They’ll need protection up and down the lineup while Harper is out.
Trea Turner or Xander Bogaerts would definitely help.
An improved Nick Castellanos or Rhys Hoskins would definitely help.
A full season from a more experienced Bryson Stott would definitely help.
“We’re having meetings now,” Dombrowski said. “We hopefully cover every single topic that we can think of -- possible clubs, free agent signings, trades, all of that stuff. In the back of our mind, there will be discussions of, 'What do we do if … ?' Which may be nothing because we’re in a situation that right now we’re looking at [Harper] coming back and DH-ing for some portion for [the 2023 season].”
When Harper does return, will he be immediately effective? As ultra-talented as Harper is, it’s natural to wonder.
This is the bitter reality that the Phillies face following a scintillating run through the postseason.
Harper played through the injury and surgery was ultimately required.
We’re at that point now.
Next week, a number of questions will be answered.
The best case scenario will have Harper back in the lineup by late-spring.
If Harper is out past July, who knows if he’ll be the same MVP-caliber player to lead the Phillies on another deep playoff run.
That’s why it’s vital to stockpile as many bats in the lineup to assist while Harper is healing.
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