Matt Holliday expects to return to lineup Saturday

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The Cardinals’ playoff chances took a serious hit with a heartbreaking loss to the Mets yesterday, but they are about to get a much-needed boost for the home stretch.

After taking batting practice prior to tonight’s game against the Cubs, Matt Holliday told B.J. Rains of FOX Sports Midwest that he expects to return to the starting lineup tomorrow. In fact, it’s possible he could be available to pinch-hit tonight.

Holliday hasn’t played since last Tuesday due to inflammation in his right middle finger. We heard earlier this week that he was “doubtful” to return this season, but he has made rapid progress this week.

While the Cardinals will welcome Holliday back with open arms, Allen Craig has stepped up admirably during his absence. The 27-year-old is batting .381 (8-for-21) with three homers, two doubles and six RBI over his last five games.

Padres sign Jordan Lyles

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The Padres announced on Sunday that the club signed pitcher Jordan Lyles to a one-year major league contract with a club option for 2019. According to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports, Lyles will earn $750,000 in 2018. Pitcher Travis Wood was designated for assignment to create room on the 40-man roster for Lyles.

Lyles, 27, had miserable results between the Rockies and Padres last season, compiling an aggregate 7.75 ERA with a 55/22 K/BB ratio over 69 2/3 innings. While he specifically gave up 24 earned runs in 23 innings across five starts with the Padres, it was a small sample. A full season at the pitcher-friendly Petco Park, as opposed to Colorado’s Coors Field, might help revitalize his career.

Wood, 30, went to the Padres at the non-waiver trade deadline from the Royals this past season. Overall, the lefty posted an aggregate 6.80 ERA with a 65/45 K/BB ratio in 94 innings. He’ll earn $6.5 million this season and has an $8 million mutual option with a $1 million buyout for 2019. So, the Padres are just eating $7.5 million minus the league minimum, assuming Wood latches on elsewhere.