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Why is Bryce Harper out of the Phillies lineup for Tuesday’s game against the Mets?

Philly will be without its two-time MVP for the opener of a huge NL East showdown with rival New York, despite having an off day on Monday.

Bryce Harper of the Philadelphia Phillies bats during the third inning against the Atlanta Braves at Truist Park on May 26, 2023 in Atlanta, Georgia. Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images

Mired in fourth place in the NL East at 25-28, the Philadelphia Phillies’ series against the divisional rival New York Mets this week at Citi Field is critically important. But Philly will be down arguably its most important player for the opener on Tuesday night, as Bryce Harper is out of the lineup:

Kyle Schwarber will serve as the designated hitter against Mets starter Kodai Senga, while the recently recalled Dalton Guthrie gets a start in left field.

Given that the Phillies just had an off-day on Monday, alarm bells immediately went off that something was wrong with Harper, whether with his surgically repaired elbow or something else. Thankfully, though, it’s just a scheduled rest day for the star, who’s started every game at DH since returning from Tommy John surgery earlier this month.

While it’s obviously a relief that nothing’s wrong with Harper, the timing is certainly curious, as Philly’s offense is already struggling to score and could certainly use his presence in the middle of the lineup to kick off a crucial series with the team directly in front of them in the division standings. Harper’s been every bit his usual self since his dramatic return to the lineup, slashing .306/.406/.482 with six doubles, three homers and two steals in his first 23 games. He should be available to pinch-hit if needed, although if Philly’s bats can’t keep it close enough to give him a chance in the late innings, you’ll certainly hear some second-guessing about the lineup tomorrow.