The early reports are encouraging on Josh Beckett’s hyperextended left knee, but what if Boston is forced to place him on the disabled list alongside Jon Lester (lat), Clay Buchholz (back) and Daisuke Matsuzaka (elbow)?
Such a move could leave the Red Sox with a rotation of John Lackey, Tim Wakefield, Andrew Miller, Kyle Weiland and Kevin Millwood, if only for a week or two.
And what a far cry that would be from a postseason-worthy rotation.
Lackey has a jumbo-jet-like ERA of 7.47. The 44-year-old Wakefield is at 4.74. Miller has been pretty impressive since his callup, going 3-0 with a 3.57 ERA. However, he went 1-5 with an 8.54 ERA for Florida last year.
Weiland will be making his major league debut in Lester’s place Sunday.
Millwood just gave up four runs in five innings for Triple-A Pawtucket tonight. He had a nice run last month in which he allowed a total of five runs in four starts, but he’s now struggled in two of three outings. Overall, he has a 4.50 ERA in eight starts for Pawtucket.
An alternative to calling on Millwood would be to move Alfredo Aceves from the bullpen to the rotation. Another would be to bring up left-hander Felix Doubront. Doubront pitched seven scoreless innings for Pawtucket two days ago and is 1-3 with a 3.38 ERA in 12 starts this season.
Hopefully, it won’t come to any of that. Beckett might be ready to start in the first series back after the All-Star break. The hope is that Lester will make it back before the end of the month and that Buchholz could return in early August. So, the Red Sox still have plenty of time to get their rotation ready for October. The key will be making it through the next few weeks without doing too much damage to their chances of getting there.
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.