Milwaukee Brewers v St Louis Cardinals - Game Five

Manager Ron Roenicke worried by Ryan Braun’s thumb injury


Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun left in the third inning of this afternoon’s series finale against the Phillies due to a nagging thumb injury. He struck out in the first inning and was subsequently replaced by Logan Schafer in left field in the third. Braun hasn’t homered since May 22 against the Dodgers. To boot, he has just three doubles is hitting .254 since his last homer.

The thumb issue, which has been bothering Braun for the better part of two weeks, has manager Ron Roenicke worried.

Via’s Adam McCalvy:

“We’ve got to figure out what to do there,” Roencike said. “We’ve got to start going in the right direction with him, and sometimes it’s not. … I’m hoping we don’t have to [place him on the disabled list], but we start making gains and he says, ‘Yeah, I feel really good today,’ and then all of a sudden it’s a bad day and a setback.

“We keep going this back and forth. He’s out there playing, hitting third for us, and I expect the Braun that I’ve seen for the last two years, and he’s not the same. He’s still getting hits, he’s still helping us win games, but he’s not that guy that can carry a team like I know he can.”

Roenicke said he had a plan for Braun on the upcoming, three-city road trip, which includes a pair of off-days between stops.

Aside from the recent power outage, Braun is otherwise having a great season, hitting .304 with an OPS just south of .900, which is about 40 percent better than the league average.

NL Wild Card Game: Cubs vs. Pirates lineups

Jake Arrieta

Here are the Cubs and Pirates lineups for tonight’s Wild Card game in Pittsburgh:

CF Dexter Fowler
RF Kyle Schwarber
LF Kris Bryant
1B Anthony Rizzo
3B Tommy La Stella
2B Starlin Castro
C Miguel Montero
SS Addison Russell
SP Jake Arrieta

Cubs manager Joe Maddon wanted Tommy La Stella in the lineup over Jorge Soler or Chris Coghlan, so he starts at third base and Kris Bryant shifts to left field. Bryant started just four games in left field all season, compared to 136 starts at third base. Also of note: After batting Addison Russell ninth–behind the pitcher–116 times this season Maddon has him in the more traditional eighth spot tonight.

RF Gregory Polanco
3B Josh Harrison
CF Andrew McCutchen
LF Starling Marte
C Francisco Cervelli
2B Neil Walker
SS Jordy Mercer
1B Sean Rodriguez
SP Gerrit Cole

Pedro Alvarez started 119 games at first base for the Pirates and with right-hander Jake Arrieta on the mound he was the presumed starter tonight, but instead manager Clint Hurdle has benched the 27-homer slugger in favor of utility man Sean Rodriguez. Alvarez is vastly superior to Rodriguez offensively, especially versus a righty, but he’s also very shaky defensively. During the regular season Rodriguez started a grand total of one game at first base against a right-hander, so this qualifies as a hunch by Hurdle.

The Cardinals are optimistic about Yadier Molina’s status

St. Louis Cardinals' Yadier Molina celebrates as he arrives home after hitting a solo home run during the fourth inning of a baseball game against the San Francisco Giants Monday, Aug. 17, 2015, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
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Jenifer Langosch of reports that Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina‘s bum thumb responded well after participating in baseball activities Tuesday, including catching, hitting, blocking balls and the like.

This morning Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said that he’s now even more optimistic that Molina will be on the NLDS roster. The Cards’ first game will be Friday against the winner of tonight’s Cubs-Pirates tilt.

Having Molina would obviously be a boon for the Cardinals on the field. For a look at what Molina means to the Cardinals off the field, however, take some time to go read Derrick Goold’s excellent story about what Molina’s teammates think of him. Short version: the world. It’s worth your time, even if you’re not a citizen of Cardinals Nation.