Bryce Harper, who has made 70 consecutive starts, may get a rest on Saturday night when his Philadelphia Phillies play the middle game of a season-ending three-contest series against the host Miami Marlins.
Phillies manager Joe Girardi hinted before Philadelphia’s 5-0 win on Friday that Harper might rest either Saturday or Sunday. Then, in Friday’s third inning, Harper doubled and rolled his left ankle, surely scaring everyone who cares about the Phillies (82-78).
Harper stayed in the game, however, and he homered in the fifth inning. He finished the game by going 3-for-5 with two RBIs, and he fell just a triple short of a cycle.
“I wasn’t paying attention to where the bag was,” Harper said when asked about rolling his left ankle after a misstep on second base. “But I’m (fine).”
That third-inning double stopped Harper’s streak of 13 consecutive hitless at-bats, and despite his MVP-worthy season, his mini-slump in part led to the Phillies getting swept by the Atlanta Braves earlier this week.
“I let my team down,” Harper said when asked about the Phillies getting eliminated from playoff contention. “I let down the city of Philadelphia.”
Saturday’s pitching matchup will feature Marlins lefty Jesus Luzardo (5-9, 6.90 ERA) against Phillies right-hander Hans Crouse (0-1, 3.00).
Luzardo has faced the Phillies just once in his career, and that happened on Sept. 3 as the Marlins prevailed, 10-3. Luzardo got a no-decision, holding the Phillies to five hits, two walks and three runs in 5 2/3 innings.
However, in his past three starts, Luzardo has failed to complete five innings. He is 0-2 in those three starts, allowing 11 runs in 12 1/3 innings.
Despite Luzardo’s struggles, Marlins general manager Kim Ng expressed satisfaction with the trade that sent star center fielder Starling Marte to the Oakland Athletics in exchange for the southpaw.
“Getting a guy like Jesus was an easy call,” Ng said. “He’s a lefty who throws 97-98 (mph) with good secondary stuff. He’s learning to command his fastball better.
“We have seen glimpses of great things from him. We hope he continues to learn.”
Crouse, a 23-year-old rookie, was the Texas Rangers’ second-round pick in 2017. He was acquired by the Phillies on July 30 as part of a six-player trade that also brought pitchers Kyle Gibson and Ian Kennedy to Philadelphia.
On Sept. 26, Crouse made his MLB debut, taking a 6-0 loss against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Crouse lasted three innings and allowed two hits, four walks and one run.
Saturday will mark Crouse’s second major league appearance, and he will be facing a Marlins team that has lost nine of its past 10 games.
The Marlins (65-95) have been blanked 14 times this season, and they are on a current 14-inning scoreless drought.
Both the Marlins and Phillies are beat up as they enter their final two games. Phillies second baseman Jean Segura missed Friday’s game due to a back injury. Girardi said he could possibly return on Sunday.
Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto — a former Marlins star — rested Friday due to a leg injury. And Rhys Hoskins was ruled out for the year after getting injured on Aug. 25.
For the Marlins, starting right fielder Jesus Sanchez’s season ended on Friday when Miami placed him on injured reserve due to a strained right hamstring.
The Marlins were already without three starters: catcher Jorge Alfaro, first baseman Jesus Aguilar and third baseman Brian Anderson. All three are done for the season.
–Field Level Media