People wonder why I’m emotionally checked-out from the Braves. Why I’m sleeping on their chances. Why I’m totally content to play the “happy to be here” card and to spend more time thinking about what, if any team I’ll pick up as a temporary rooting interest in the next round of the playoffs after the Braves bow out.
Here’s a good reason: Melky Cabrera is batting fifth in the Braves’ lineup tonight. Fifth! As in, the guy behind the cleanup hitter. The place you usually want to put a guy with a little pop, seeing as though there’s a good chance that the team’s two best hitters — third and cleanup — could reasonably be expected to be on base. Melky.
Depending on how you measure it, Melky Cabrera is probably the worst player in the league. At least among those who received any significant playing time. He’s five-tools bad: he doesn’t hit for average. He doesn’t hit for power. He isn’t fast. He doesn’t have a good glove. He doesn’t have a good arm.
Did Eric Hinske die and no one’s telling us? Is Nate McLouth battling a case of shingles? Is there anything sadder than the fact that both of those are questions that Braves fans legitimately deserve answers to as they wish for something approaching a quality lineup? Melky. Really. Fifth.
As I was trying to think of a way to end this post, I vented about Melky to Gleeman. His response: “If Matt Cain throws a no-hitter tonight, I would rank it slightly behind James Shields’ start.” And he’s right. Melky.
Know what I’m going to think about all winter? About what the 2010 Braves could have accomplished had they had even a single average outfielder beyond Jason Heyward.
Cubs’ outfielder Kyle Schwarber will return to the playing field on Saturday, per a report by the Chicago Tribune’s Mark Gonzales. The club’s prized left fielder suffered a season-ending injury when he collided with Dexter Fowler back in April, tearing both his ACL and LCL and undergoing intensive knee surgery later that month.
While no nerve damage was discovered during the surgery, the Cubs have kept a close eye on Schwarber during his recovery and put a kibosh on any part-time or full-time role with the team until the spring of 2017. Getting a few reps in during the Arizona Fall League appears to be the last step in the 23-year-old’s rehab process. He will be part of the Mesa Solar Sox’ ‘taxi squad,’ making him eligible for games on Wednesdays and Saturdays only.
Schwarber batted .246/.355/.487 with 16 in 69 games with the Cubs during his debut season in 2015. He will be added to the Mesa Solar Sox roster in advance of their set against the Salt River Rafters on Saturday evening.
The Game: Los Angeles Dodgers @ Chicago Cubs NLCS Game 6
The Time: 8:00 PM EDT
The Place: Wrigley Field, Chicago
The Channel: FS1
The Starters: Kyle Hendricks (Cubs) vs. Clayton Kershaw (Dodgers)
We’re pulling out the big guns for this one. The Cubs took Los Angeles by storm again in Game 5, closing out their road trip with an eight-run spread over the Dodgers, and tonight they’ll try to clinch the NLCS on home turf in Game 6.
Pitching-wise, it’s a rematch of Game 2 with Kyle Hendricks (16-8, 2.13 ERA) and Clayton Kershaw (12-4, 1.69 ERA) on the mound. Kershaw took the first set against the Cubs, going seven scoreless innings with six strikeouts in Game 2 while Hendricks held the Dodgers to a single run over 5 1/3 innings. Adrian Gonzalez was the only Dodger to capitalize on Hendricks’ cutter, going yard in his first at-bat to generate a 1-0 lead.
The Cubs’ biggest strength so far this series has been an electric offense, something the Dodgers have struggled to replicate against left-hander Jon Lester and Joe Maddon’s airtight bullpen. While they’ve already beaten Hendricks at Wrigley Field once this October, they’ll need Kershaw to go the distance in another playoff gem if they intend to keep the Cubs’ championship hopes at bay with a 3.4-run average. Should Kershaw and his crew knot the series again, the tiebreaker will fall to Rich Hill and Jake Arrieta in Game 7.