If you can’t locate up and in, don’t pitch up and in. Control is rarely an issue for Blake Snell, but he learned a valuable lesson on Saturday night – one all too familiar to reigning NL MVP Bryce Harper. A 97-mph fastball from the left-hander bounced off of Harper’s hand, fracturing the designated hitter’s right thumb in the process.
The injury comes with an unknown timetable for a return, but in the meantime, the absence creates an irreplaceable void for Philadelphia. Harper is keeping pace with his 2021 NL MVP campaign, slashing .318/.385/.599. Even with an on-base percentage lower than a year ago, his mere presence in the lineup is a daunting threat to opposing pitchers.
But with Harper already sidelined from playing the field with a torn UCL, the broken thumb results in an indefinite absence with many questions to follow about Philadelphia without the MLB superstar.
Does the injury require immediate surgery? If yes, what’s the rehabilitation timeline? If the injury does not require a procedure, how long until the slugger returns to the Phillies’ lineup? With the extent relatively unknown to this point, “indefinite” means anywhere between a few weeks or the rest of the season.
Bryce Harper Holds No Ill-Will Toward Snell
While obviously frustrated and audibly in pain, video captures a quick exchange between pitcher and batter. Snell acts extremely apologetic, and Harper explains he isn’t aiming frustration toward the pitch, rather the unintended outcome.
This isn’t the left-handed batter’s first run-in with high-and-tight pitches; last April, Harper missed a handful of games after a pitch caught him square in the nose. The bloody scene dazed the batter, but did not break any bones.
Following last night’s ordeal, Harper joked about the incident, saying, “I can take 98 to the face. But I can’t take 97 to the thumb”.
As for Philadelphia, Harper’s broken thumb isn’t the only freak accident on the diamond to claim a Phillie victim. Third baseman Alec Bohm cut his neck with a broken bat after striking out earlier this month. Luckily for the team vying for a spot in the NL Wild Card, Bohm did not miss time.