MLB Phillies bank on Bryce Harper’s return vs. Rangers


The Philadelphia Phillies, who have dropped back-to-back games for the first time in June, hope to get Bryce Harper back in the lineup on Wednesday afternoon.

The Texas Rangers, meanwhile, are in an enviable position of having a deep roster that forces manager Chris Woodward to make tough lineup decisions.

The Phillies and Rangers close out their two-game interleague series on Wednesday in Arlington, Texas. The hosts cruised to a 7-0 victory in the opener on Tuesday night.

Philadelphia is 15-4 in June but has lost two straight.

The Phillies have been without Harper since last Friday due to a blister on his left hand. The slugger was available to pinch-hit on Tuesday but wasn’t used.

Asked pregame how Harper felt, Phillies interim manager Rob Thomson said: “A lot better. Still a little swelling in there, and I really didn’t want to irritate it by DHing (him) and having him get ready four times for at-bats.”

The Phillies did get another player back in the lineup, as third baseman Johan Camargo returned after being sidelined since June 7 with a right knee strain. Camargo went 0-for-4 against Texas.

Before Tuesday’s game, the Rangers reinstated infielder Josh H. Smith and catcher Mitch Garver from the injured list.

Smith started at third base in the series opener and went 1-for-3. Garver finished 0-for-3 as the designated hitter after returning from a two-week absence caused by COVID protocol.

Smith went on the IL on June 4 due to a left shoulder sprain. That same day infield prospect Ezequiel Duran was promoted from Double-A Frisco, and he has impressed, hitting .291 with two homers and eight RBIs in 14 games.

Woodward plans to utilize Smith and Duran at both third base and left field.

“It’s a good problem to have,” Woodward said Tuesday on his pregame radio show. “We have a lot of good players. Duran will definitely get some playing time. Smith will as well.”

Wednesday’s pitching matchup of right-handers features the Rangers’ Jon Gray (2-3, 4.27 ERA) and the Phillies’ Zack Wheeler (6-3, 2.69).

Wheeler will face the Rangers for the second time this season. On May 4, he tossed 7 2/3 shutout innings, striking out seven in a no-decision. He scattered six hits while walking one. The Rangers scored twice in the 10th inning and won 2-1.

In three career starts against Texas, Wheeler is 1-0 with a 0.86 ERA, having yielded just two runs in 21 innings.

Gray will be making his 12th start of the season but just his third at home. In 12 2/3 innings at Globe Life Field, he is 1-0 with a 3.55 ERA. In his nine road starts, he is 1-3 with a 4.47 ERA.

This will be Gray’s second meeting with the Phillies. On May 3 at Philadelphia, the veteran was not involved in the decision in the Rangers’ 6-4 win. In three innings, he gave up three runs on five hits with one walk and three strikeouts.

Gray is 4-3 with a 4.29 ERA in nine lifetime starts against the Phillies.

Throughout his career, Gray has traditionally pitched better at home. Before signing with the Rangers in the offseason, the 30-year-old was with the Colorado Rockies from 2015-21. His combined home record is 32-18 with a 4.51 ERA, compared to 23-34 and 4.63 ERA away.

–Field Level Media


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