September 21, 2023

What to watch as Phillies get Bryce Harper back IL in major offensive boost vs. Nationals


Photo by John Adams/Icon Sportswire

Bryce Harper was placed on the injured list back on May 25 with a left forearm contusion.

He’s now rejoined the Philadelphia Phillies and is in the starting lineup Saturday afternoon against the Washington Nationals.

Here’s three takeaways:

Harper’s back

Harper is back and in the Phillies’ lineup Saturday after missing 10 games with a left forearm contusion.

The corresponding roster move was closer Hector Neris going on the paternity list.

Harper initially suffered the injury April 28 in St. Louis when he was hit in the nose by a 97 mph fastball. The ball struck his wrist/forearm area then ricocheted to his nose. He missed the next three games, returned, hit .211 with 26 strikeouts in 57 at-bats, then went on the 10-day injured list.

The Phillies went 5-8 in the 13 games Harper missed early and late in May as a result of that HBP.

Though he wasn’t hitting before missing these last two weeks, Harper’s presence is needed by the Phillies right now. They’re 26-30 and averaging 4.07 runs per game. That’s 19th in baseball.

The Phillies have been a below-average offense in a terrible year for offense league-wide. The lineup was viewed as one of their two main strengths heading into 2021 but it has been thinned by injuries for most of the season. Every position player from the Opening Day roster except Rhys Hoskins, Alec Bohm, and Andrew McCutchen has missed time with an injury in the first two months, and Bohm and McCutchen have been their two least productive regulars.

Harper is hitting .274/.395/.489 with eight doubles, seven homers, and 13 RBIs in 162 plate appearances. He reached base in just three of his last 26 plate appearances before going on the IL and he wasn’t even taking his walks, which he typically does even when slumping. It was his worst stretch in three seasons as a Phillie.

Now, the Phillies’ lineup is almost entirely back except shortstop Didi Gregorius. He’s been out since May 12 with a bone bruise on his right elbow. He has resumed hitting but could require a minor-league rehab assignment before returning.

They’ll need the lineup to start producing as anticipated in this challenging month of June. The Phillies’ next eight series after the Nationals are against the Atlanta Braves, New York Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers, San Francisco Giants, Nationals, New York Mets, Miami Marlins, and the San Diego Padres. 

Howard starts

Phillies starter Spencer Howard makes his third start since replacing Chase Anderson in the rotation.

Howard has a 3.86 ERA in his first two starts, but he’s struggles with velocity the deeper he goes into games.

Starting lineups

Phillies’ starting lineup vs. Nationals righty Joe Ross:

  1. Odubel Herrera (L) CF
  2. Jean Segura (R) 2B
  3. Bryce Harper (L) RF
  4. Rhys Hoskins (R) 1B
  5. J.T. Realmuto (R) C
  6. Andrew McCutchen (R) LF
  7. Alec Bohm (R) 3B
  8. Nick Maton (L) SS
  9. Spencer Howard (R) P

Nationals’ starting lineup vs. Phillies righty Spencer Howard:

  1. Trea Turner (R) SS
  2. Josh Harrison (R) 2B
  3. Juan Soto (L) RF
  4. Josh Bell (S) 1B
  5. Kyle Schwarber (L) LF
  6. Starlin Castro (R) 3B
  7. Alex Avila (L) C
  8. Victor Robles (R) CF
  9. Joe Ross (R) P


  • When: 1:05 P.M. E.S.T.
  • Where: Citizens Bank Park
  • Broadcast: NBC Sports Philadelphia
  • Radio: 94.1 WIP
  • Social media coverage: Philly Sports Reports’ Twitter & Instagram.

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