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June 28, 2024

Will injuries derail Phillies' dream season?

Can the Phillies withstand potential absences from Bryce Harper and Kyle Schwarber?

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Phillies-Bryce-Harper-injury_062824_USAT Kyle Ross/USA Today Sports

The Phillies may be on the cusp of facing some serious adversity.

Have you taken for granted how good the Phillies are yet?

After the best start in franchise history, the Phillies could be without Bryce Harper — essentially the NL MVP to this point — and Kyle Schwarber — Mr. June himself — for a significant period of time.

This, in addition to some issues in the starting pitching rotation, with both fifth starters Spencer Turnbull and Taijuan Walker on the shelf, each currently on the 15-day injured list.

Harper, in the final play of the Phillies' loss to the Marlins Thursday night, clutched his hamstring running to first in the ninth inning. 

"It hurts," Harper told reporters. "We're going to get an image tomorrow just to see what that looks like and see how I feel and go from there."

"If I had something to go back on, I would let you know," he continued. "But I've never felt anything like this before."

That sounds less than ideal. The best case scenario would likely see the Phillies acting cautiously with their most important offensive player, and the worst could include an extended stint on the IL. Ironically, Harper looks likely go yet another year without appearing as a Phillie in an All-Star game after he was announced as the leading vote-getter in the NL.

Schwarber, making a rare start in the outfield instead of as DH, had a groin issue in the ninth and said his pain felt worse than a simple cramp. His setback is likely to be less serious than Harper's, but the Phillies may need a new leadoff man for a bit. 

The Phils are already without star catcher J.T. Realmuto, who is expected to return to the lineup sometime in July. They weathered some time without shortstop Trea Turner and got excellent play from Edmundo Sosa in his stead. Positional versatility is valuable.

Philly's roster was built to be deep and withstand injuries to veteran players. But these injuries could test the roster. If they do miss Harper and Schwarber for a while, they'll be missing some serious left-handed hitting. It's possible the everyday lineup looks something like this:

1. Bryson Stott, 2B
2. Trea Turner, SS
3. Alec Bohm, 1B
4. Nick Castellanos, DH
5. Brandon Marsh, CF
6. Edmundo Sosa, 3B
7. Whit Merrifield, LF
8. David Dahl, RF
9. Rafael Marchán, C

Not exactly a World Series roster right there. Darrick Hall has a minor league option left and could be called up for Harper, while the team could summon Johan Rojas to return in center, moving Marsh to right field if Schwarber hits the IL.

In the rotation, unproven journeyman Michael Mercado appears to be the fifth starter for a bit, at least until Walker or Turnbull can resume duties.

The Phillies have an eight-game lead on the Braves. Logic suggests that buffer could get smaller with so much firepower hurt. There are a lot of unknowns right now — but the first half of the season was special. And it could bail the Phillies out as they look to get healthy again and ready to make a deep run in October.

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