What’s on Tap: Previewing Thursday’s action

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Rich Hill returns to the mound for the first time since tossing seven perfect innings against the Marlins and being controversially removed by manager Dave Roberts. Roberts was right to do so, by the way. Hill takes on the Diamondbacks’ Archie Bradley in a 9:40 PM EDT start at Chase Field on Thursday night.

Roberts was so careful with Hill because he knows how valuable the lefty is to the club’s chances of maintaining its lead in the NL West and succeeding in the postseason. The Dodgers enter Thursday’s action with a five-game lead over the second-place Giants. Meanwhile, Hill brings with him a 1.80 ERA and a 110/30 K/BB ratio in 95 innings. He hasn’t allowed a run since the second inning of his July 7 start against the Athletics, a span of 24 innings. When he has been healthy, Hill has arguably been the best pitcher in baseball this season. But while many starters are at 29 and 30 starts at this point, tonight will be Hill’s 18th.

Hill missed over a month between July 17 and August 23 dealing with a blister issue. He debuted for the Dodgers, who acquired him on August 1, on the 24th of the month. He pitched six shutout innings against the Giants, but then would be sidelined again with more blister issues. Hill wouldn’t pitch again until September 3.

While Roberts is hoping Hill dominates the Diamondbacks on Thursday night, he’s also hoping Hill doesn’t dominate too much and force him into another can’t-win decision.

The rest of Thursday’s action…

Pittsburgh Pirates (Chad Kuhl) @ Philadelphia Phillies (Jerad Eickhoff), 7:05 PM EDT

Tampa Bay Rays (Blake Snell) @ Baltimore Orioles (Yovani Gallardo), 7:05 PM EDT

New York Yankees (Masahiro Tanaka) @ Boston Red Sox (Eduardo Rodriguez), 7:10 PM EDT

Oakland Athletics (Daniel Mengden) @ Kansas City Royals (Edinson Volquez), 7:15 PM EDT

Milwaukee Brewers (Jimmy Nelson) @ Chicago Cubs (Mike Montgomery), 8:05 PM EDT

Toronto Blue Jays (J.A. Happ) @ Los Angeles Angels (Daniel Wright), 10:05 PM EDT

St. Louis Cardinals (Adam Wainwright) @ San Francisco Giants (Johnny Cueto), 10:15 PM EDT

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.