Joe Blanton set to make final rehab appearance

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Sidelined since the end of spring training with an oblique injury, Joe Blanton is scheduled to make his third and final minor league rehab start Wednesday. Blanton threw just three innings in his previous outing, so he’ll need to increase his pitch count significantly in order to rejoin the Phillies’ rotation as planned next week.
Kyle Kendrick will almost surely be bumped from the rotation once Blanton is ready to return. He turned in another poor performance yesterday, giving him a 7.71 ERA and 9/9 K/BB ratio in 18.2 innings while allowing opponents to hit .316 with a .983 OPS against him. By comparison, for his career Alex Rodriguez has hit .305 with a .965 OPS, so Kendrick has basically turned every hitter he’s faced this season into a slightly better version of Rodriguez.
Current fourth starter Jamie Moyer also hasn’t been particularly effective, but has gone six innings in each of his three starts and sports a 5.00 ERA with an 11/4 K/BB ratio overall. Opponents have hit .257 with a .723 OPS versus Moyer, so the Phillies won’t have much of a decision to make when it comes to bumping a pitcher from the rotation to clear room for Blanton. Philadelphia sits atop the NL East at 11-7, 1.5 games ahead of Florida, New York, and Washington.

Phillies’ Bryce Harper to miss start of season after elbow surgery

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PHILADELPHIA – Phillies slugger Bryce Harper will miss the start of the 2023 season after he had reconstructive right elbow surgery.

The operation was performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache in Los Angeles.

Harper is expected to return to Philadelphia’s lineup as the designated hitter by the All-Star break. He could be back in right field by the end of the season, according to the team.

The 30-year-old Harper suffered a small ulnar collateral ligament tear in his elbow in April. He last played right field at Miami on April 16. He had a platelet-rich plasma injection in May and shifted to designated hitter.

Harper met Nov. 14 with ElAttrache, who determined the tear did not heal on its own, necessitating surgery.

Even with the elbow injury, Harper led the Phillies to their first World Series since 2009, where they lost in six games to Houston. He hit .349 with six homers and 13 RBIs in 17 postseason games.

In late June, Harper suffered a broken thumb when he was hit by a pitch and was sidelined for two months. The two-time NL MVP still hit .286 with 18 homers and 65 RBIs for the season.

Harper left Washington and signed a 13-year, $330 million contract with the Phillies in 2019. A seven-time All-Star, Harper has 285 career home runs.

With Harper out, the Phillies could use Nick Castellanos and Kyle Schwarber at designated hitter. J.T. Realmuto also could serve as the DH when he needs a break from his catching duties.