Bryce Harper’s injury will keep him off the field for at least another six weeks, but he’s expected to return to the lineup within a few days
The Philadelphia Phillies‘ star hitter and right-fielder, Harper will remain unable to throw for at least another six weeks, according to ESPN. Once he’s cleared for throwing, he can begin working his way back to playing.
Harper has been serving as the team’s designated hitter since mid-April, with excellent results. Getting a platelet-rich plasma injection in his right elbow over the weekend took him out of the home series against the San Diego Padres, but he’s hoping to return to batting within the next few days.
Nick Castellanos has been Harper’s replacement in right, but couldn’t replace his power in the lineup. He went 2-for-11 over the Padres series with four strikeouts, a walk, and no extra-base hits.
While no one can replace Harper in the lineup, Castellanos can handle the outfield. He has a career .989 fielding percentage over 521 games in right, with only 11 errors. As long as Harper comes back to the lineup soon, the Phillies should be able to continue to push for a winning season.
Can the Phillies be playoff contenders with Harper unable to play the outfield?
The Phillies are currently second in the NL East standings but trail the New York Mets by seven games. So far, their inconsistent play makes it hard to see them stealing the top spot, since they’re not even close.
Losing Harper from the outfield hurts, but his most powerful impact is undoubtedly at the plate. In his stats for just this season, despite only being at half of his full ability, he leads the NL in slugging percentage.
"“Harper’s .634 slugging percentage leads the NL, trailing only Mike Trout (.646) in all of baseball. His nine homers — all of which have come since he tore his UCL — are tied for the most in the NL and he leads the majors with 24 extra-base hits. Since Harper hurt his elbow on a throw to home plate, his OPS (1.069) trails only Trout, Manny Machado, and Aaron Judge for the highest in baseball.”– Matt Breen, The Philadelphia Inquirer"