ARLINGTON, Texas — Bryce Harper was out of the Phillies lineup on Tuesday night as he recovers from an infected blister at the base of his left index finger. It was the third straight game Harper hasn’t started, although interim manager Rob Thomson had said he would be available to pinch hit on Tuesday.
Thomson said that Harper hit in the batting cage on Tuesday and now feels “much better,” but that there is still some swelling so the team is trying to be cautious.
“When guys DH, they take a lot of swings,” Thomson said. “They tend to take a lot more swings than when they’re playing the field. So I wanted to mark sure we weren’t going to irritate that by taking too many swings.”
The Phillies have missed Harper’s bat. Entering Tuesday night, the DH leads his team in RBI (48), batting average (.326), on-base percentage (.391) and slugging percentage (.622).
Zach Eflin still on track to start on Saturday
Right-handed starter Zach Eflin played long toss on Tuesday and looked “very stable” according to Thomson. Eflin, who has a bruised right knee, was cleared to pitch on Sunday but exited the game after 38 pitches. Thomson on Sunday said that the shortened start was by design, but that the Phillies would re-evaluate Eflin on Tuesday.
“He’s much better,” Thomson said. “We’re still hopeful for a Saturday start. We’ll know more on Thursday when he does his bullpen but he said he felt a lot better, he said he looked a lot better.”
Thomson said he isn’t sure if Eflin will be on a limited pitch count on Saturday, if he does start. Eflin had surgery on his right and left knees in 2016, and had surgery in September to repair a tear in the patellar tendon in his right knee.
Some potential starting pitching depth in Lehigh Valley
Left-handed pitcher Kent Emanuel (left elbow impingement) had his rehab assignment transferred to triple-A Lehigh Valley on Tuesday. He will start on Friday. Thomson said that the plan is for Emanuel — who has experience as a reliever and starter — to work out of the rotation. He is currently on the 60-day injured list.
Thomson added that left-handed pitcher Cristopher Sánchez is also being stretched at Lehigh Valley. In his next outing, Sánchez is schedule to pitch four or five innings.
Phillies will still go closer by committee
Despite Seranthony Domínguez’s stretch of dominance this season, the Phillies will still go with a committee to fill their closer role, according to Thomson. The interim manager did add he’d feel comfortable running Domínguez out against most lineups, but said that there are certain spots where he’d want to go with a different guy.
“There might be a pocket that’s better for a Brad Hand or a Connor Brogdon,” Thomson said. “Then we can run Seranthony through a different pocket.”
Domínguez has a 1.73 ERA through 26 innings pitched this season with 34 strikeouts.