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Impact of potential Bryce Harper return for Phillies

We go over the fantasy baseball, betting and MLB playoff implications of the All-Star DH return to the Phillies’ lineup.

Philadelphia Phillies v Washington Nationals - Game Two Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images

There is still a chance that Philadelphia Phillies star Bryce Harper will return before the close of this month. He had the pins removed from his surgically repaired left thumb on Aug. 1 and is back to hitting off a tee. There has been a little bit of an issue with Harper’s right elbow recently, which has kept him from throwing. But don’t fret; that doesn’t change the timeframe for the two-time MVP. He may not play the field for the rest of this season due to the torn UCL in that elbow. But once his bat is ready to go — likely following a rehab stint in the minors — he will be put right back into the middle of the Phillies’ lineup. Let’s go over what Harper’s return means from a betting, fantasy and real-world MLB standpoint.

Bryce Harper return date

Phillies betting impact

It’s Wild Card or bust for the Phillies, who are 10.0 games out in the NL East and 3.0 games behind the Braves both in the division and in the race for the top Wild Card spot. As is, Philadelphia sits in second position, one game ahead of the Padres and two ahead of the Brewers, who are on the outside looking in. The Phillies are listed by DraftKings Sportsbook at -295 to make the playoffs, which is actually pretty good value when compared to the Padres (-495).

Plus, the Phillies appear to have an easy schedule from here on out. It includes multiple series versus the Nationals, Marlins and Reds as well as meetings with the Pirates, Diamondbacks and Cubs. Adding Harper’s prodigious lumber makes the Phillies a solid bet to make the playoffs, especially since their bullpen has stabilized, and the offense has been averaging nearly five runs per game without him.

Fantasy baseball impact

Harper’s return can’t come soon enough for fantasy owners. At this point, it does look like he will be back for the entirety of the fantasy playoffs, and you shouldn’t expect too much rust when he returns since a surgically repaired thumb isn’t as potentially concerning as a hand or wrist injury. He will still have that torn UCL in his elbow, but considering that Harper slashed .366/.441/.675 in 33 games after his diagnosis became public, you shouldn’t worry about any lingering effects there. That ailment will keep him from throwing for perhaps the rest of the year, but he can obviously deal with it just fine at the plate.

MLB playoff race impact

Harper can’t do enough to catch the Mets in the NL East, but might he push the Phillies past the Braves for that No. 1 Wild Card spot, giving them home-field advantage for the best-of-three series? He can be that impactful. Those clubs have two series left against one another, one each at home, both in September. Those two weekends will probably decide the top of the NL Wild Card standings. Of course, the winner of that playoff series will then have to face the No. 1 seed, and I’m not sure any team — with or without Bryce Harper — wants to run into the Dodgers. Although, with Harper in that lineup, and Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler fronting their rotation, the Phillies have a phighting chance to pull off an upset.