It has been a disappointing season for Bryce Harper, the Phillies, and their fans. Photo by Wayne Terry, TPL.

The Philadelphia Phillies are in the midst of a rash of injuries to some of their best hitters. J.T. Realmuto, Didi Gregorious, and now Bryce Harper all find themselves on the ten day injured list with various ailments. The good news is that none of the injuries appear to be too serious on the surface. The bad news however, is that the process in which these players eventually landed on the IL was a disaster and gross mismanagement of the roster.

Bullet, meet foot

The Phillies purposely short handed themselves in multiple games by not placing these players on the IL sooner. This resulted in games where they played with two or fewer active bench players. That can’t happen the amount of times it did, especially for a National League team. 

The process that resulted in Harper landing on the IL might have been the most shortsighted of the bunch. It’s been clear to anyone watching that Harper hasn’t been quite the same since being hit in the face in St. Louis. Since that game on April 28th, Harper has 12 hits in 57 plate appearances, good for a .211 average. He has struck out 26 times to nine walks in 15 games. In the 23 games prior to that night, Harper was hitting .321 with a 1.063 OPS. 

Harper’s struggles have progressively gotten worse since then, culminating when he was removed from a game in Dunedin against the Blue Jays on May 15th after two at bats. He was originally scratched for the following game, but entered the game anyway after Scott Kingery suffered a concussion because the Phillies were out of non-pitchers on their bench. Since that moment, Harper is 2-23 with 11 strikeouts to one walk. 

Chess, not checkers

The Phillies and Joe Girardi put themselves in that moment because they declined to add Didi Gregorious or J.T. Realmuto to the IL prior to the game, despite Gregorious not playing since May 12th and Realmuto also exiting early the night prior. Gregorious stayed on the active roster until May 18th, where Realmuto stayed active until May 21st despite neither playing in any further games. That was 8 days where the Phillies purposely short handed themselves a roster spot and one day where they shorthanded themselves two spots. That day resulted in their superstar entering a game injured.  

Joe Girardi, after lying to the media claiming nothing was wrong with Harper, finally admitted that the reasoning for keeping Harper active was to gain a “competitive advantage.”

That explanation is completely ludicrous. How is it an advantage to play a clearly injured player, let alone your best hitter? Harper is 2-25 over the last week. He has been actively hurting the team while playing injured. There was no competitive advantage to be gained from him playing. 

So then the Phillies kept Harper on the active roster for another two days despite him not playing. That is a competitive advantage…….for the other team. Boston and Miami both had an extra bench player at their disposal, while Joe Girardi and the Phillies were attempting gamesmanship.

The Phillies are 2-5 since that fateful Sunday in Dunedin. They are 3-7 since this nonsense started with Gregorious on May 12th. Some competitive advantage.