Vernon Wells is close to returning from a torn thumb ligament that has sidelined him since mid-May, but with Mike Trout, Mark Trumbo, and Torii Hunter entrenched as the Angels’ starting outfield and Kendry Morales playing every day at designated hitter … well, do they even want him back?
Wells had a miserable 2011 and was only slightly better this season before the injury, hitting .244 with a .282 on-base percentage and .422 slugging percentage in 38 games. He still has 20-homer, but the combination of a low batting average and terrible plate discipline makes Wells an out-machine.
He might fit decently in a platoon role spotted mostly versus left-handed pitching, but Trout, Trumbo, and Hunter are all right-handed hitters. Morales is a switch-hitter who’s struggled against lefties, so a Morales-Wells platoon at DH could work.
Wells needs to go on a minor-league rehab assignment before coming off the disabled list, so the Angels likely have a week or so to figure out a plan for their unwanted outfielder with about $50 million remaining on his contract.
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.