The Reds entered July a perfectly respectable 46-36, but that was good for only third place in the NL Central. Mostly, they were beating up on bad teams and losing to good ones:
Reds vs. Marlins, Brewers, Cubs, Mets: 24-5
Reds vs. everyone else: 22-31
Besides the four teams with the worst records in the NL, the Reds had a winning record versus just one club; they were 4-2 against the Phillies. They were 7-12 against the two teams ahead of them in the NL Central (the Pirates and Cardinals). They were 5-7 against AL teams.
Now the Reds have opened July 2-0 against a Giants team that’s also struggled of late, but one that happened to defeat them in the NLDS last year before going on to win the World Series. Bailey’s no-hitter was well timed, giving him his fifth win of the year after he went 1-2 in June. It’s his first win against a contender since he beat the Nationals way back on April 5, his first outing of the season. Maybe he had deserved a couple of more since, but he had struggled in most of his starts against teams currently in postseason position:
April 10 against St. Louis: 7 ER in 5 IP
May 1 against St. Louis: 4 ER in 5 1/3 IP
May 7 against Atlanta: 4 ER in 5 IP
May 30 against Cleveland: 7 ER in 3 2/3 IP
June 20 against Pittsburgh: 2 ER in 6 IP
June 26 against Oakland: 4 ER in 6 IP
That’s an 8.13 ERA in six starts against teams that would be in the postseason if it started today. The Giants don’t qualify, but beating them is a start. Doing so by hurling a second career no-hitter only makes it all the sweeter.
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.