The improbable comeback for the 2021 National League Most Valuable Player begins tonight in Los Angeles.
After his team suffered a 13-4 drubbing by the Los Angeles Dodgers to open a three-game series on Monday night, Philadelphia Phillies designated hitter Bryce Harper will make his season debut after undergoing Tommy John surgery last November.
The return comes much earlier than expected for Phillies fans and PA sportsbooks.
Many had expected Harper’s return to the team sometime around the All-Star break, but Harper had circled this series as a possibility. Now it becomes a reality after a 160-day recovery period due to ligament reconstruction in his right elbow. The final approval came from his orthopedic surgeon, Neal ElAttrache, on Monday.
With his return, Harper becomes the fastest Major League Baseball player ever to return from this surgery. The previous quickest return was by St. Louis Cardinals infielder Tony Womack in 2004.
As fans and users of PA mobile betting apps know, Harper’s return must be a big spark to the Phillies.
Where Phillies Stand as Harper Returns
The defending National League champions (15-15) are currently in fourth place in the NL East Division, 4½ games behind the division-leading Atlanta Braves (19-10). The team has sputtered after a magical run to the World Series a season ago.
Entering Tuesday, the Phillies lead the National League in hits (282) and are second in batting average (.272). Harper's return moves Kyle Schwarber to leftfield and will provide an added offensive punch to the lineup.
Last season, Harper played only 99 games due to injury. He hit 18 home runs with 65 RBI and a .286 batting average and stepped it up in a major way with two home runs and five RBI in the National League Championship Series. His NLCS highlight was a game-winning blast in Game 5 at home over the San Diego Padres to advance to the World Series.
BetMGM Latest MLB Future Odds
BetMGM Sportsbook PA released its latest MLB future odds Tuesday morning and the Phillies have made some movement in the NL East Division 30 games into the season.
Before the season, Philadelphia opened at +300 to win the NL East and last week moved down to +1200. With Harper's return tonight, they have moved up to +700 with 26.1% of the tickets and 12.1% of the handle.
To defend their National League pennant, the Phillies opened the season at +800 and last week moved down to +1400. They are now back up to +1200. The Phils lead all NL teams with 13.5% of the tickets and 13.3% of the handle.
In hopes of winning the World Series, the Phils opened the season at +1300 and last week went down to +3000. With Harper’s return, the team is back to +2500. Philly has 6% of the tickets held and 6.2% of the handle.
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