The Phillies have been on a razor’s edge all year. Their bullpen has blown a ton of games, the offense has been hot and cold, and their fielding has been abysmal. Even when things were firing on all cylinders they still were only on the cusp of a playoff spot. On Saturday night they were dealt a deathblow. Bryce Harper suffered a broken thumb when he was hit by a Blake Snell fastball.
The Phillies won Saturday’s game. At 38-35 they’re now 2.5 games out of the final wildcard spot. Zach Eflin was terrific through 5.0 innings, and the bullpen miraculously put together 4.0 perfect innings to close things out. Simply put, it was an all-around fantastic game for the Phillies. And yet, all of that pales in comparison to one thing: Bryce Harper’s broken thumb.
With one out in the top of the fourth inning, Bryce Harper strode to the plate against Blake Snell. Snell’s 2-2 offering was a 97 mile-per-hour fastball that hit Harper squarely on the left thumb. Harper crumpled to the dirt, clutching his ailing hand, and was attended to by medical staff. While exiting the field he shouted a few heated words at Snell, before seemingly thinking better of the exchange, and making amends.
Subsequent X-rays revealed that Harper had broken his left thumb, and will be out indefinitely. As it stands now, Harper looks poised to miss multiple weeks on the Injured List. He will be re-evaluated in the coming days, and a more definitive timetable will be revealed.
It’s a crushing blow to a Phillies team that seemed to have turned a corner after the firing of Manager Joe Girardi, and they’ll now have to move forward without one of the best players in the game. The severity of the injury will likely determine how the team will chart its course moving ahead. If Harper somehow only misses a few weeks, then the playoffs could still be on the table. If this thumb injury is anything like Jean Segura’s broken index finger, which will result in a roughly three-month absence, then the Phillies look close to dead in the water.
Optimists will be quick to point out that the Atlanta Braves lost Ronald Acuña Jr. to a torn ACL last May, and went on to win the World Series. That does provide some hope, but this team is not the same as those Braves. The Phillies just don’t have enough depth to cover for a months-long absence from Harper. Case in point, struggling youngster Mickey Moniak is being recalled from Triple-A Lehigh Valley to take Harper’s spot on the roster. Anything can happen, but the Phillies are in pretty bad shape right now.