The Philadelphia Phillies will continue life without Bryce Harper when they open a three-game set against the visiting Atlanta Braves on Tuesday night.
Philadelphia is still awaiting word on the recovery timeline of Harper’s fractured left thumb. He was injured when hit by a pitch from Blake Snell of the San Diego Padres on Saturday night.
The Phillies won the game in which Harper was hurt, 4-2, and followed it up with an 8-5 win over the Padres on Sunday. Kyle Schwarber, who smacked a three-run home run Sunday, doesn’t think the team’s goals should be changed despite the injury to the two-time National League MVP.
“There’s no reason to chalk up a season,” Schwarber told reporters. “I don’t want people to get down on themselves. Don’t get me wrong: This is a massive blow. It hurts everyone, but I feel like we’ve got a good team and we still have a chance to compete.”
Philadelphia has won 18 of its past 24 games, including winning streaks of nine and five games. The Phillies won three of four against the Padres in San Diego.
“It’s a really good team,” Schwarber said after hitting his 21st homer of the season. “I don’t think there’s going to be any doubt in our head when we’re stepping out onto that baseball field.”
The Braves are also blazing hot, with 19 victories in their past 24 games. Atlanta began that stretch with 14 consecutive wins.
The Braves have their own injury concern with Ronald Acuna Jr., though it is on a much lesser scale. Acuna fouled a ball off his left foot on Saturday and an MRI exam detected that his injury was just a bruise.
He sat out Sunday’s 5-3, 11-inning loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers but he may be able to play in the opener against Philadelphia.
Atlanta lost two of three to the Dodgers to conclude a homestand that began by taking three of four from the San Francisco Giants.
“It was a good week,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “We played some really good baseball against some really good teams. If there were any questions, I think we showed we are as good as anybody in this league.”
The defending World Series champions did allow a two-run, ninth-inning lead to get away on Sunday night. Kenley Jansen blew the save against his former team. It is his fourth blown save of the season.
“That’s a closer’s life,” Snitker said. “He’ll be fine. That’s not the first and probably won’t be the last time that’s happened to him.”
Atlanta will contend with Phillies ace Zack Wheeler (6-4, 2.77 ERA) in the opening contest.
The right-hander defeated the Braves on May 23 when he struck out a season-high 10 while giving up two runs and eight hits over 6 2/3 innings.
The 32-year-old is 9-7 with a 3.20 ERA in 22 career starts against Atlanta. Acuna is 8-for-31 with three homers and three doubles against Wheeler, while Dansby Swanson is just 5-for-31.
Wheeler lost to the Texas Rangers in his last turn on Wednesday after winning six straight decisions. He gave up four runs (two earned) and seven hits over 4 1/3 innings.
Right-hander Charlie Morton (4-3, 4.84) will take the mound for the Braves. The 38-year-old has struck out 40 in 25 innings over his last four starts.
Morton is unbeaten over his last nine starts but has just three wins to show for it. He received a no-decision when he struck out 11 last Wednesday against San Francisco while giving up two runs (on solo homers) and three hits over seven innings.
Morton gave up four runs and nine hits in 4 1/3 innings during a no-decision against the Phillies on May 25. He is 5-5 with a 4.78 ERA in 13 career starts against Philadelphia.
Odubel Herrera is 6-for-11 with two homers and six RBIs off Morton. Alec Bohm is 5-for-12.
The Phillies claimed outfielder Oscar Mercado off waivers from the Cleveland Guardians on Monday.
–Field Level Media