Bryce Harper will miss his third straight game for the Phillies tonight, as the outfielder continues to recover from a PRP injection over the weekend. The small tear in Harper’s UCL has left the NL MVP battling elbow discomfort for almost the entire season, and he hasn’t played in the outfield since April 16.
Unfortunately for Harper and the Phillies, it will be even longer until we see Harper back on the grass, as manager Joe Girardi told reporters (including Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia) that Harper has now been shut down from throwing for six weeks. Doctors initially gave Harper a four-week shutdown, but with this added time, it will now be until late July or early August before Harper is able to play the outfield, between the shutdown period and then a ramp-up period.
The good news is that Harper has been able to stay in the lineup as the designated hitter, and his production hasn’t been slowed whatsoever by his elbow problem. Harper is batting .305/.361/.634 over 147 plate appearances, leading the NL in slugging percentage and tied for the NL lead with nine home runs. (He also entered today’s action tied for the Major League lead with 14 doubles.)
Kyle Schwarber and Nick Castellanos have been locked into everyday corner outfield roles with Harper filling the DH spot, making for a less-than-ideal defensive alignment for the Phillies. Since Castellanos and Schwarber are both hitting well, the Phils can only hope that the offensive production outweighs any defensive shortcomings until Harper is able to return to regular right field duty.