Believe it or not, Manny's Return represents an opportunity for the Rockies

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The conventional wisdom went that anyone who had any plans of catching
up with the Dodgers in the NL West should have made their move while
Manny Ramirez was on suspension. Troy Renck of the Denver Post thinks that wisdom gets it exactly backwards:

Manny Ramirez returns Friday. That’s when the Rockies need to make
up ground. I know it doesn’t make any sense that the Dodgers will be
worse with their best player back. But hear me out. Ramirez isn’t
returning after missing a few days with a strained hamstring or sore
knee. He will have missed 50 games for cheating — a lengthy,
humiliating absence that’s foreign to him. When Ramirez rejoins the
lineup Friday, it might as well be March 1. That’s how far he will be
behind.

“It’s not like he’s going to hit five home runs in the first 10
games,” Dodgers third-base coach Larry Bowa said. “It’s going to take
him a few weeks to get going.”

I can see the logic there, and it’s made even clearer by the schedule,
which has the Rockies facing the Diamondbacks, Nats, and Braves — who
Renck sadly but accurately calls “mediocre” — facing Colorado in the
first ten days post-Manny.

Granted, any talk of a post-Manny return Rockies run would be
meaningless if it wasn’t for the fact that the Rockies made a hell of a
run while Manny was gone,
but the point remains a good one: whether the NL West becomes a real
race as opposed to a Giants-Rockies wild card sprint may very well be
decided as Manny Ramirez clears his throat over the next two weeks.

Jake Arrieta to return to Cubs’ rotation on Thursday

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Cubs starter Jake Arrieta has been out over two weeks with a strained right hamstring, but he’s ready to return to action. The right-hander threw a bullpen on Tuesday and it went well, so he will start in Thursday’s series opener against the Brewers in Milwaukee, MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat reports.

Arrieta, 31, returns with a 14-9 record, a 3.48 ERA, and a 157/53 K/BB ratio in 160 1/3 innings. If he stays on schedule, he’ll make three starts through the end of the regular season, including the regular season finale on October 1 against the Reds.

Arrieta is expected to max out at 75-80 pitches on Thursday and will ramp up through the end of the month.

Cardinals activate Adam Wainwright from the disabled list

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The Cardinals announced ahead of Tuesday’s series opener against the Reds that pitcher Adam Wainwright has been activated from the 10-day disabled list.

Wainwright, 36, has been absent since mid-August due to a right elbow impingement. The Cardinals plan to use him out of the bullpen through the end of the season. Prior to the injury, the right-hander posted a disappointing 5.12 ERA with a 96/44 K/BB ratio in 121 1/3 innings.

Wainwright is under contract for one more year at $19.5 million before becoming eligible for free agency.