The Philadelphia Phillies picked a great time to get their best player back. Outfielder Bryce Harper is set to return to the club Friday, two months after undergoing thumb surgery, per manager Rob Thomson.
Harper, 29, missed two months after fracturing his thumb in late June. He sustained the injury after being hit on the hand by a 97 mph fastball from San Diego Padres starter Blake Snell. Harper knew something was off the instant he was hit. He appeared angry and animated while leaving the field, though he and Snell spoke and still have a good relationship.
Harper was in the midst of one of his finest seasons as a pro prior to the injury. In 64 games, Harper hit .318/.385/.599, with 15 home runs. That performance was enough to get Harper voted to the All-Star team. It was the first time Harper was named an All-Star in his four seasons with the Phillies.
Phillies have excelled without Bryce Harper
Losing Harper would have been a devastating blow to most teams, but the Phillies found a way to rally around his injury. When Harper went down, the team was 38-35 and 2.5 games out of a wild-card spot in the National League. In Harper's absence, the team has gone 31-20 (prior to Thursday's game) and sits in the second wild-card spot in the NL.
The team's turnaround started weeks before Harper's injury, when Thomson replaced Joe Girardi as the team's manager. Thomson showed faith in the Phillies' younger players, and that has paid dividends over the past few months.
Harper's return should only help make the Phillies a more respectable team in the NL. If he can pick up where he left off, the Phillies will almost certainly solidify their position in the postseason and could be a sneaky pick to upset some higher ranked NL playoff teams in October.