There's plenty left to decide in the National League

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And you thought this weekend would be boring.

The Padres are still alive in the National League West. They slugged three homers against Matt Cain en route to a 6-4 victory over the Giants last night. The Friars now sit two games back in the National League West with two left to play.

And don’t forget the Wild Card, either. Because the Phillies crushed the Braves 11-5 last night, the Padres are just one game back there.

Take a look at the upcoming pitching matchups:

Saturday:

Padres vs. Giants

Tim Stauffer (5-5, 1.89 ERA) vs. Barry Zito (9-13, 4.08 ERA)

Phillies vs. Braves

Vance Worley (1-1, 2.25 ERA) vs. Tommy Hanson (10-11, 3.41 ERA)

Sunday:

Padres vs. Giants

Mat Latos (14-9, 2.92 ERA) vs. Jonathan Sanchez (12-9, 3.15 ERA)

Phillies vs. Braves

Cole Hamels (12-11, 3.09 ERA) vs. Tim Hudson (16-9, 2.76 ERA)

OK, now here are the potential tiebreaker scenarios, courtesy of Dan Manella of MLB.com:

If the Padres take two out of three from the Giants and the Braves are swept by the Phillies:

The Giants would win the National League West and the Padres and Braves would play a one-game playoff Monday at Turner Field.

If the Padres sweep the Giants and the Braves are swept by the Phillies:

The
Padres would be awarded the National League West since they hold the
head-to-head advantage over the Giants this season. The Giants,
meanwhile, would win the Wild Card.

If the Padres sweep the Giants and the Braves lose two out of three to the Phillies:

Here’s
the fun one. All three teams would finish with identical 91-71 records,
forcing two tiebreaker games. The Giants and Padres would play a
one-game playoff Monday at PETCO Park to determine the winner of the
National League West. The loser of the game would then play the Braves
on Tuesday to decide the Wild Card winner.

Yeah, yeah. If the
Padres lose just one of their remaining two games and the Braves win
one, everything will be decided, but really, what fun is that? Since my
Mets are out of it, I’m rooting for chaos, baby.

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.