MLBits: Bryce Harper Looks Ready, Julio Rodríguez Joins 20-20 Club, Olson's Slam Powers Braves, Trout Makes Halos History, More

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MLBits: Bryce Harper Looks Ready, Julio Rodríguez Joins 20-20 Club, Olson’s Slam Powers Braves, Trout Makes Halos History, More

Chicago Cubs

When Bryce Harper went down with a fractured thumb in June, I thought the Phillies might be cooked, even after a post-Girardi surge in the win column. Not only have the Phillies played well without Harper, but they’re also in control of the second Wild Card in the National League. Now, they’re going to be getting Bryce Harper back, and Harper looks like he hasn’t skipped a beat in his rehab assignment.

Bryce Harper Rehab Walk-Off

Bryce Harper’s rehab assignment is off to a roaring start. After hitting two home runs in his first game with the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs on Tuesday, Harper walked off for the Iron Pigs in his second rehab game last night.

In two games with the Iron Pigs, Harper is 5-for-8 with two home runs, two doubles, six RBI, and two walks. Harper’s .625/.700/1.625 line through two games suggests his thumb is 100 percent, albeit in a small sample size at Triple-A.

Harper went down on June 25 with a fractured thumb after being hit by an errant pitch in his hand. Harper hit the 60-day IL after surgery to repair the thumb and his initial return date was set for sometime in September. Now, it seems like an earlier return for the reigning National League MVP is a possibility.

Here’s what Phillies interim manager Rob Thomson said about a potential early return for Harper:

“A possibility, yeah, it just depends on how he feels,” Thomson said (via “But that was pretty impressive last night. He did a lot of base running last night. I didn’t ask him but he’s probably pretty sore. He tried to steal third base.”

Harper’s 60th day on the IL was yesterday, so he is eligible to be activated as soon as today. The Phillies are at home for a three-game series with the Pirates beginning tomorrow, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Harper rejoins the team for that series.

Julio Rodríguez Joins 20-20 Club

Julio Rodríguez hit his 20th home run of the season on Wednesday against the Philadelphia Phillies and joined the 20-20 club in his rookie season.

As Starting 9 points out in their tweet, J-Rod was homeless until May 1, so he’s hit 20 home runs in just under four months of the season and swiped 23 bases in 29 attempts (79.3 percent).

Rodríguez became the sixth Mariner to join the 20-20 club and the first since Mike Cameron in 2002. The other five Mariners include the aforementioned Mike Cameron, Ken Griffey Jr. (1998, 99), Alex Rodriguez (1997, 98, 99), Phil Bradley (1985), and Rupert Jones (1979).

J-Rod is the 12th player to achieve the feat while owning rookie status, but just the fourth player to do so in his actual first MLB season. The others were Marty Cordova (Twins – 1985), Ellis Burks (Red Sox -1987), and Mitchell Page (A’s – 1977). Rodríguez also passed Mike Trout as the fastest player in AL history to achieve the feat (107 games).

Olson Slam Powers Braves to Sweep

The National League East continues to shape up as one of the most exciting races to watch down the stretch with the Mets and Braves clicking on all cylinders and separated by just a game and a half entering play today.

Matt Olson did his part to ensure the Braves gained ground on the Braves on Wednesday when he crushed a grand slam into the Allegheny River outside of PNC Park in Pittsburgh.

Olson’s slam fueled a 14-2 defeat of the Pirates and a series sweep for the Braves that has helped them gain two games on the Mets in the NL East standings.

The Braves are such a fun team to watch and the masterclass in roster building (and retention) continues as they’re now reportedly “engaged” in extension discussions with Dansby Swanson. Michael broke down that report this morning.

Odds and Ends

  • While the Pirates came out on the wrong side of a lopsided 14-2 affair in Pittsburgh yesterday, they also had a fun moment at the dish. Oneil Cruz drilled a record-setting single off the right field wall. Cruz’s single smashed the Statcast exit velo record, registering at 122.4 mph.
  • Seattle Mariners starter George Kirby set an MLB record on Wednesday when he opened the game by throwing 24 straight strikes to Nationals hitters!
  • Mike Trout has had an exciting series in Tampa Bay despite the Angels dropping the first three games by scoring a combined five runs over that span. On Monday Trout hit the ball twice on the same swing. On Tuesday Trout reached 1,500 career hits with a solo home run off the catwalk at Tropicana Field. On Wednesday, Trout hit a solo home run that tied Garrett Anderson for the most runs scored in Angels history. It took Anderson 15 seasons and 2,013 games to reach the number, while Trout reached it in just 12 seasons and 1,373 games.
  • Speaking of the Angels …
  • The 2023 MLB schedule has been released, and it will be the new balanced schedule that will feature every team playing each other at least once and a reduction in interdivisional games from 19 to 13. Here’s the Cubs schedule:
  • This is pretty cool!
  • Every home run from Wednesday!
  • FYI: I’ll be at a charity golf outing tomorrow but I’m going to put together tomorrow’s MLBits tonight. It’ll look at this weekend’s action around the league and other non-time-sensitive topics.

Author: Patrick K. Flowers

Patrick is the Lead NFL Writer at Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @PatrickKFlowers.