Posted on July 17, 2019, by Bryan Zarpentine
As they continue to slip in the standings, the Philadelphia Phillies have been hit with another blow to their playoff hopes. The team placed outfielder Jay Bruce on the 10-day Injured List Wednesday. Bruce hurt himself on a check-swing during Tuesday’s win over the Dodgers. After getting an MRI on Wednesday, Bruce is optimistic his stay on the IL won’t be too long. However, oblique injuries are notoriously tricky.
“It could be 10, it could be 15, I’m not sure,” Bruce told reporters Wednesday. “But it’s not nearly as bad as an oblique could be, so that’s a positive. … I think it’s more on the mild side, the shorter side of the timetable, fortunately.”
Of course, any amount of time without Bruce is a big deal for the Phillies. Since being traded to Philadelphia in early June, Bruce has hit .256 with an OPS of .837, hitting 10 home runs in just 33 games. He’s become an important part of Philadelphia’s lineup, outperforming nearly everyone else in the lineup aside from Bryce Harper and Rhys Hoskins. Bruce has also been an important part of an outfield that has already lost Andrew McCutchen to injury and Odubel Herrera to suspension for the rest of the season.
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The Phillies are already using infielder Scott Kingery as their primary center fielder. The loss of Bruce creates another big hole in the Philadelphia outfield. Nick Williams has been recalled to take Bruce’s spot on the roster. However, despite posting a 1.032 OPS at triple-A, the once top-prospect has hit just .173 in the majors this year. Roman Quinn and Adam Haseley are also options. Of course, Quinn is hitting .094 this year while Haseley is 3 for 16 to begin his big league career.
Given their internal options, it would appear to be a near-impossible task for the Phillies to replace Bruce’s production. With two weeks left until the trading deadline, the Phillies pursue a trade as insurance in case Bruce doesn’t return in short order. In the meantime, Phillies manager Gabe Kapler plans on giving Haseley a chance while mixing Williams into the mix.
“I would say I’m committed to getting Adam Haseley reps,” Kapler said. “Nick is in a position to earn reps, and we have a much better idea of Nick Williams and who he is in a similar way to a lot of the players because we’ve had longer looks with them than we have with Adam, who we don’t know yet and want to find out by giving him opportunities. We’re looking to do that with Adam.”
At the start of the day Wednesday, the Phillies actually owned the second Wild Card spot in the National League. However, there are three teams within one game of that spot. Also, every other team in the N.L. other than the Marlins is currently within five games of the second Wild Card. Meanwhile, the Phillies are a distant 8.5 games behind the Braves for the top spot in the NL East.
Even if Bruce avoids a lengthy stay on the IL, every game matters in such a tight race. It’s a safe bet that he’ll miss the rest of July and perhaps a chunk of August as well. The Phillies will surely feel the weight of his absence in upcoming games against the Dodgers, Pirates, and Braves, among others. Bruce will no doubt give the Phillies a big lift when he returns. But in the meantime, the club will have to find a way to stay in the thick of the Wild Card race without him.