The Braves’ vaunted rotation depth will be tested in April, as Tim Hudson expects to miss at least the first month of the season following back surgery on Nov. 28.
Hudson hoped to avoid the surgery and thus didn’t have it until two months after the Braves wrapped their 2011 season. That delay will cost the team in 2012.
“Me getting back for the start of the season was never really a possibility, just from a timeline standpoint,” Hudson said. “The kind of surgery I had is a three-to-sixth-month deal. Five months puts me at May 1.”
Hudson likely would have replaced Derek Lowe as the Braves’ Opening Day starter if healthy. Now that nod could go to Jair Jurrjens, though Jurrjens too is coming off an injury. If things go as hoped, Atlanta will have a rotation of Jurrjens, Tommy Hanson, Brandon Beachy, Mike Minor and either Randall Delgado or Julio Teheran initially. Kris Medlen is another candidate to step in, but the Braves would prefer to leave him in the bullpen.
Hudson went 16-10 with a 3.22 ERA in 215 innings for the Braves last season. He’s owed $9 million this year in the final guaranteed season of his contract, but barring a meltdown, his $9 million option for 2013 will surely be exercised.
With Game 6 of the NLCS just hours away, the Dodgers will opt for a lefty-heavy lineup against right-hander Kyle Hendricks. Batting leadoff is rookie outfielder Andrew Toles, who made one appearance at the top of the lineup during the 2016 season. The Cubs, meanwhile, will bench Jason Heyward in favor of Albert Almora Jr.. This will be Almora’s first start of the playoffs, and while he has yet to face Kershaw in October, his right-handed bat could play well against the lefty at the bottom of the lineup.
Game time is scheduled for 8 PM EDT; lineups are below.
1. Andrew Toles (L) LF
6. Wilson Contreras (R) C
8. Albert Almora Jr. (R) RF
9. Kyle Hendricks (R) RHP
UPDATE, 5:08 PM EDT: Cubs’ manager Joe Maddon will not rule out a World Series appearance for Kyle Schwarber if the Cubs advance. MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat reports that Schwarber could play through a simulated game on Sunday, during which the Cubs’ medical and baseball staff would evaluate his chances for a late season return. If he does play, it will likely be in a pinch-hitting or DH role and not on the field.
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.