PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- If there was one player the Phillies could ill-afford to lose -- it's Bryce Harper.
But that's exactly what happened when he took a Blake Snell fastball to the hand.
The broken left thumb Harper suffered last week has him on the shelf -- but the Phillies are hopeful he'll be back before the end of the season. Is that late August? Is that sometime in September? The team isn't saying.
But the Phillies aren't trying to sugarcoat things. They know this is a huge loss.
The Phillies' goal is to keep things going until he gets back. Thursday night's 14-4 win over Atlanta was a boon to that cause.
But how do they sustain that momentum?
It's that old sports cliché -- next man up. Only in this scenario, the Phillies will need several people to step up. No one person can replace the production Harper was turning in -- night in, night out.
The reigning National League MVP was having another MVP type season. But maybe the Phils can get more out of JT Realmuto - who's having a down year.
Or if Nick Castellanos can be close to the player the Phillies thought they were getting when they gave him a 5-year, 100-million dollar contract.
Or if they can finally straighten out the bullpen issues -- because games might be tighter now with no Harper -- perhaps they can still make this thing work.
Along with Harper watching from the sidelines, we'll all wait and see who steps up in his absence.