Phillies could put Bryce Harper at 1B vs. Guardians

Phillies could put Bryce Harper at 1B vs. Guardians

Philadelphia star Bryce Harper last played defense 15 months ago, but that could change when the visiting Phillies begin a three-game series against the Cleveland Guardians on Friday

The Phillies have been looking for a solution at first base since Rhys Hoskins sustained a season-ending knee injury in spring training. Harper has offered to fill the void despite only playing first base for just one-third of an inning during his illustrious career. His first chance could come at some point this weekend

Harper has been serving as the team’s designated hitter since returning in early May from offseason Tommy John surgery. He is not expected to play outfield this season, but a switch to first base would help fill a valuable spot in the lineup and provide some clarity for the Phillies ahead of the upcoming trade deadline

Harper’s successful move to first base would be another positive step for Philadelphia, which has gone 27-12 since June 3.

“I like our club a lot,” Phillies president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said. “We’ve won a lot of games, but we also have a way to continue to improve — I think from an offensive perspective, in particular. And we’re getting there, you see slowly but surely with some of the guys

“I mean, really, what it comes down to, you’ve got four really good starting pitchers and a fifth guy that has stepped in. I like our bullpen a lot. Our offense has gotten better, and I think it will continue to get better.”

The Phillies are facing a Cleveland team eager to regroup after losing four of six games since the All-Star break. The Guardians will send rookie right-hander Gavin Williams (1-2, 3.94 ERA) to the mound in the series opener

Williams, 23, is set for his sixth career start after allowing two runs over five innings in a 2-0 road loss to the Texas Rangers on Saturday. He threw 92 pitches and retired 10 of the last 11 batters he faced.

“His willingness to compete is really impressive,” Guardians manager Terry Francona said. “He’s learning on the job. There were so many deep counts, but he competed. He gave us a chance, and that was a big ask the way the first two innings went.

The Guardians could use a strong outing from Williams to help relieve the pressure on the team’s bullpen, which has blown leads in three of the past six games

Philadelphia will counter with left-hander Ranger Suarez (2-4, 3.84 ERA), who received a no-decision after giving up three runs over six innings against the San Diego Padres on Saturday.

Suarez, 27, has allowed 12 runs (11 earned) in his past three starts covering 17 innings after posting a stellar 1.08 ERA in five outings last month.

Amed Rosario is 3-for-5 with a home run against Suarez, who is making his second career appearance versus Cleveland. He threw one scoreless relief inning against the Guardians in 2019

Cleveland is monitoring the status of first baseman Josh Naylor, who did not start in a 7-5 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates on Wednesday due to a sore right wrist. He appeared as a pinch hitter in the eighth inning and grounded out to first base.

Naylor has been among the best hitters in the majors this month with a .388 average (19-for-49), five homers and 17 RBIs in 13 games.

–Field Level Media

Original source here

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About the Author

Anthony Barnett
Anthony is the author of the Science & Technology section of ANH.