What’s on Tap: Previewing Monday’s action

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We have a short slate of games today, as many teams are traveling to begin new series on Tuesday. The Blue Jays already beat the Red Sox earlier this afternoon, but there’s seven games left on the docket. The one I’ll be watching tonight at 7:05 PM EST — and I’d be watching this even if I weren’t a Phillies fan — is the Mets/Phillies game, which features the flamethrowing Noah Syndergaard opposing beautiful curve ball creator Jerad Eickhoff. Odds are we’re in for a low-scoring game, even if it is at Citizens Bank Park.

MLB.com’s Mike Petriello explained today that Syndergaard is the current leader in fastball velocity and perceived fastball velocity. What that means is not only is Syndergaard’s fastball the fastest by traditional measurements, but when one takes into account where the pitcher releases the ball, Syndergaard’s fastball is still the fastest. Some pitchers can gain or lose velocity based on how they deliver the ball. For instance, Joel Peralta doesn’t get much extension when he throws the ball, so his fastball isn’t as fast as the radar gun reads, because it’s covering more distance. Carter Capps, because of his funky delivery, releases the ball much further out, so his fastball actually looks faster as it’s covering less ground.

Eickhoff was one of the six players the Phillies received from the Rangers last year in exchange for Cole Hamels and Jake Diekman. He impressed last year, finishing with a 2.65 ERA over eight starts, and has continued the success in two starts to begin the 2016 season, yielding only two earned runs in 12 innings. Eickhoff’s curve is a thing of beauty, which you can see in this highlight video of his most recent start against the Padres. Of the 12 strikeouts the right-hander has accumulated this season, nine of them (75%) have come on the curve. He had 49 strikeouts last year, 29 of which (59%) were finished with a curve.

The rest of Monday’s action…

Colorado Rockies (Jordan Lyles) @ Cincinnati Reds (Dan Straily), 7:10 PM EST

Washington Nationals (Tanner Roark) @ Miami Marlins (Jose Fernandez), 7:10 PM EST

Chicago Cubs (John Lackey) @ St. Louis Cardinals (Mike Leake), 8:09 PM EST

Los Angeles Angels (Hector Santiago) @ Chicago White Sox (Carlos Rodon), 8:10 PM EST

Milwaukee Brewers (Chase Anderson) @ Minnesota Twins (Phil Hughes), 8:10 PM EST

Arizona Diamondbacks (Archie Bradley) @ San Francisco Giants (Jake Peavy), 10:15 PM EST

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.