Finally able to solidify a plan for the road ahead, Philadelphia Phillies star Bryce Harper just might be able to thrive now that he knows what he is up against.
When the visiting Phillies oppose the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday, Harper will be in his second game since getting confirmation thathis right elbow injury is a small tear in his ulnar collateral ligament and not something that will keep him completely off the field.
Harper will be reduced to designated hitter duty for at least another month, and likely more, just as he has been since April 17 when his elbow discomfort began to increase. Even so, finding out exactly what is wrong seemed to put Harper into a comfort zone.
In his first at-bat after undergoing his exam Thursday in Los Angeles, Harper hit a solo homer on the second pitch he saw. He finished the night with three RBIs and will be the DH again Friday and Saturday before getting a platelet-rich plasma injection Sunday that will keep him out for the series finale.
"I'm glad that I know and have some clarity on where it's going to go from here," Harper said. "That's about it. I'll get the shot on Sunday, see how I feel the next couple of weeks and go from there."
Johan Camargo hit a two-run homer Thursday and wound up with three RBIs in Philadelphia's 9-7 win. Kyle Schwarber was dropped to the No. 7 spot in the order and responded with an RBI single in his first at-bat, ending an 0-for-15 drought.
At the very least, the Phillies are showing they know how to turn the page. The victory over the Dodgers was their fourth in six games following a four-game losing streak.
The Phillies will send right-hander Kyle Gibson (3-1, 2.94 ERA) to the mound on Friday.
In three lifetime appearances (two starts) against the Dodgers, Gibson is 0-3 with a 9.00 ERA. In a home start against Los Angeles last August, Gibson gave up six runs on seven hits in 4 1/3 innings.
The Dodgers fell Thursday for the third time in four games despite a valiant comeback attempt. Los Angeles tied the game 7-7 after trailing by six runs but still ended up with just its third defeat in 13 home games.
Poised to get the Dodgers out of their funk, as he has done so many times in the past, is Clayton Kershaw (4-0, 1.80 ERA). The veteran left-hander has given up one run or none in four of his five starts. He is coming off a road victory over the Chicago Cubs on Saturday, when he gave up five hits and one walk over seven scoreless innings.
Kershaw had just two strikeouts against the Cubs, which was more a product of an aggressive Chicago offense. He got 21 outs on just 81 pitches. Now Kershaw faces another offense known for going on the attack early in counts.
"I've always been kind of a guy who gets some first-pitch outs when it's going OK," said Kershaw, who is 4-6 with a 2.76 ERA lifetime against the Phillies in 16 starts. "I do throw strikes, I think for the most part, and guys are trying to attack me early. ...
"(I) might give up some first-pitch hits here and there, but overall, I think it's better to be aggressive and sometimes they hit it at guys."
--Field Level Media