Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images
Philadelphia Phillies star Bryce Harper exited Saturday’s game against the San Diego Padres with an injury after being hit by a pitch in the top of the fourth inning.
Todd Zolecki of MLB.com reported Harper’s injury has been diagnosed as a fractured thumb.
Harper was in a lot of pain after being hit and appeared to take his frustration out on Padres pitcher Blake Snell.
NBC Sports Philadelphia @NBCSPhilly
Bryce Harper takes a pitch to the hand and exits the game.
Please be okay, Bryce 🙏 pic.twitter.com/Qy2wGmNPbi
Harper has dealt with an elbow injury that has limited him to DH duties since mid-April. A blister on his left hand briefly took him out of the lineup in mid-June.
Nonetheless, the 2021 National League MVP hasn’t seen his performance dip compared to last season. Through 63 games, he has 15 home runs, 48 RBI and a .320/.385/.602 slash line.
Albert Pujols is the last back-to-back MVP winner in the NL in 2009, so history isn’t on Harper’s side in his quest for more hardware. The 29-year-old is at least putting himself in the MVP discussion, though.
The Phillies fired manager Joe Girardi in June after getting off to a disappointing 22-29 start. Their fortunes immediately turned around, and they now sit third in the NL East at 37-35.
The offseason additions of Kyle Schwarber and Nick Castellanos have done little to lessen Philadelphia’s reliance on Harper. The top half of the order is shouldering a heavy burden for the offense, and now the lineup will become even more top-heavy if Harper misses extended time.
Playoff expansion has widened the margin for error for contending teams during the regular season, but there’s no question the Phillies need Harper to remain healthy as they seek to earn a postseason berth.