Phillies News

Phillies notes: Harper's frustrating game, Schwarber's month of June and the road ahead

A look at Bryce Harper not running a ball out, getting excited about Kyle Schwarber in the month of June and looking ahead at the Phillies' upcoming schedule.

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Phillies manager Rob Thomson addressed a minor kerfuffle involving Bryce Harper before Friday night’s game against the Cardinals at Citizens Bank Park.

In his third at bat of Wednesday’s 6-1 win over the Giants at Oracle Park, Harper hit a grounder to second baseman Thairo Estrada, whose throw to first pulled Wilmer Flores off the base. It’s possible Harper could have reached safely if he ran full out down the line. But he didn’t.

Because it was Harper, and because sports talk radio made an issue of it, the incident became part of the pregame conversation two days later.

“On his first swing of the day, he didn’t tweak anything. He just felt something in his knee,” Thomson said. “He’s fine. But I checked in with him and told him, ‘Make sure you can finish this game.’ He’s probably taking care of some energy at the same time.

“He’s a guy who, at times, gets frustrated and doesn’t run balls out. And there are times he runs 110 percent when he probably shouldn’t. There’s probably a pretty good medium in there somewhere. A lot of it’s driven by emotion. That’s who he is. That’s part of what makes him great.”

So there you have it.

SCHWARBER STUFF: Leadoff hitter Kyle Schwarber is a career .216/.726 hitter against lefthanded pitching compared to .232/868 against righties.

Going into play Friday night, though, the splits are dramatically different. Against lefties: .341/980. Against RHPs: .180/.666. And that’s not based on a small sample. He had nearly as many at bats vs. LHPs (85) as righthanders (122).

“One of the goals for him this season was to cut down on strikeouts,” Thomson said. “So he’s got to stay on the ball, he’s got to use the other field. Consequently, I think that helps him immediately.”

-- Just one thing, though: Schwarber led the NL with 200 and 215 strikeouts each of the last two seasons. He’s now on a pace to whiff 207 times this year.

-- But has that success come at the expense of power? Going into the game he had 11 Schwarbombs, which put him on pace for 31 for the season after leading the league with 46 in 2022.

But wait: Schwarber isn’t called Mr. June for nothing. That’s traditionally when he heats up. Last season he had 13 long balls through May. . .and ended the year with 47.

ON DECK: Cardinals RHP Sonny Gray (7-2, 2.60) will face LHP Ranger Suarez (9-1, 1.75) Saturday at 7:15 p.m. and RHP Lance Lynn (2-3, 3.45) vs. RHP Taijuan Walker (3-2, 5.51) in the series finale Sunday at 7:10 p.m.

Those who have noted that, to this point, the Phillies schedule hasn’t been the most difficult, can look forward to arrival of the Brewers at Citizens Bank Park on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Milwaukee currently has the best record of any team they’ve played so far, including the Braves.

This series should also mark the first time popular former Phillies first baseman Rhys Hoskins plays at CBP since the 2022 World Series. He missed all last season after tearing his ACL during spring training and then signed with the Brewers as a free agent. Hoskins, who had been on the IL with a strained hamstring, was activated Friday and started against the White Sox.

After Wednesday’s game, the Phillies will leave for London, where they’ll play the Mets on Saturday and Sunday. “There are going to be a lot of days off, which is a good thing right now for our rotation, because we’ve put a lot on them,” Rob Thomson said. “They’ve logged a lot of innings. So at this point I wouldn’t be surprised if we stayed just right in rotation. Some guys are going to get six days off, some will get seven. Which, at this point, might be good for them.”

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