The Washington Nationals have announced that slugger Bryce Harper will be sidelined at least two months after requiring surgery to repair a torn ligament in his left thumb.
Fantasy baseball owners who feared the worst, had their nightmares realized, and they will need to hit the wire in order to find a replacement.
Harper, a two-time All-Star, injured himself while sliding head-first into third base during the Nats’ 11-1 win over the San Diego Padres on Friday night. He will have surgery on Tuesday to fix a torn UCL in his thumb, the same procedure the Angels’ Josh Hamilton underwent more than two weeks ago. Harper is expected to be out until early July at best, but fantasy owners should be prepared for the worst.
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Harper has always been a balls-out player and has missed time before due to injuries caused by his aggressive style of play, so it’s not too shocking that we’re hearing this kind of news from the nation’s capital.
The 21-year-old had started his 2014 campaign on a rather slow note, hitting just .160 with zero RBI through his first six games, but a verbal bashing and benching by manager Matt Williams seemed to have sparked him. Since his reprimand, Harper had hit .352 with seven extra-base hits and nine RBI.
It’s a big loss for the Nationals, as well as fantasy baseball owners.
Nate McLouth (0.2 percent owned on ESPN.com) stands to see the biggest boost in value while Harper is sidelined.
The Nats signed the nine-year vet to a two-year deal this winter after he posted a .258/.329/.339 line with 12 homers and 30 stolen bases for the Orioles in 2013. He had a very difficult time hitting lefties last season (.640 OPS, compared to .753 vs. RHP), but the speed is real. If he can manage 5-6 HR and swipe 15 bags in Harper’s stead, he’ll be a very valuable fantasy asset. He went 1-for-3 with a home run in his first start on Sunday.
For owners in weekly formats planning to add McLouth, it’s worth noting that the Nationals only play five times this week.
If you’re looking for other outfield options on your league’s waiver wire, Nick Markakis (39 percent), Marlon Byrd (33 percent) and Dexter Fowler (21.6 percent) are some more widely available players that could help you while Harper is absent from your lineup.
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