The Philadelphia Phillies will enter the 2023 season with a legitimate chance of competing for a second consecutive playoff berth, even if the roster is still far from complete.
But as the calendar gets ready to flip to December soon, there’s a bitter reality awaiting them.
Bryce Harper will be out until likely the All-Star break.
Not only in right field, but also as a designated hitter.
The fact that Harper was able to stay in the lineup as a DH despite his UCL injury was a large reason the Phillies came within two games of winning the World Series.
If the National League hadn’t adopted that rule, the Phillies probably wouldn’t have continued to advance in the playoffs.
Now comes the hard truth.
The Phillies must survive while their Most Valuable Player heals from Tommy John surgery.
Last season, Harper missed 52 games with a fractured left thumb and the Phillies went 32-20. Coming out of that stretch 12 games above .500 proved that the Phillies had enough firepower to overcome Harper’s absence.
It will be more challenging if Harper is out for 60-to-100 games this season.
During those 52 games, Darick Hall was inserted as the DH 30 times. Next came Kyle Schwarber (nine), followed by Nick Castellanos (five), then Rhys Hoskins and Alec Bohm with four each.
It might seem natural to simply move Hoskins into the DH role since he struggled with some defensive miscues and mental mistakes down the stretch of the regular season and into the playoffs.
Hall performed admirably when called upon from Triple-A Lehigh Valley and hit some big home runs. He could easily fit into the role against righties.
The Phillies could also add a free agent to serve as their DH.
There are so many ways the Phillies can go, but it’s difficult to navigate since spring training hasn’t even arrived, nor has the free agent market materialized.
Let’s not forget that Harper will be back. He may not be able to play right field at all this season, even if it’s a possibility by August. With Harper’s personality, he’s going to want to come back as early as possible as a DH to help the Phillies.
Harper is not the type of player to sit back and watch his teammates perform if he’s able to be out there in some capacity.
Expect Harper back in the lineup by the All-Star break. His only option will be as a DH at that point.
Any form of Harper will be enough to energize the Phillies.
For a chunk of the season, the Phillies will have quite a big decision to make at DH.
While the roster is continuously being changed, Hoskins and Hall seem like prime candidates for now.
More From SI's Inside The Phillies:
- Phillies Star Bryce Harper Doesn't Hold Back on Thoughts About Joe Girardi
- How Mike Trout Will Join the Phillies
- Could Bryce Harper's Favorite MLB Player Join the Philadelphia Phillies in 2023?
- Could The Phillies Soon Be Playing in Wawa Park?
- Bryce Harper-Obsessed Japanese Baseball Star Wants to Play for Phillies
- Six Philadelphia Phillies Declare Free Agency
- Rumored Phillies Free Agent Target Just Opted Out of Contract
- Jimmy Rollins Describes Disrespectful Treatment by Ryne Sandberg
- Phillies Release 2023 Regular Season Schedule
- Picking the Phillies' All-Time Single Season Lineup