Jeff Janiczek of the Philadelphia Daily News writes that Ryan Howard “is making encouraging progress” recovering from the torn Achilles’ tendon he suffered in the final at-bat of the NLDS.
Charlie Manuel told Janiczek that he touched base with Howard “about 10 days ago” and “he’s doing really well.”
It’s early enough in the recovery process that “doing really well” probably doesn’t mean a whole lot and Manuel admitted that “the big test” will come in 2-3 months when the first baseman “really starts to move around and do things.”
Howard didn’t “move around” a ton before the injury, so it makes sense that a torn Achilles’ tendon wouldn’t wreck his value as much as it would, say, a shortstop or center fielder who relies on speed and athleticism. Right now the best-case scenario for the Phillies seems like Howard returning to the lineup at some point in late April or early May.
One team has punched its ticket to the Fall Classic. Two teams are looking to join them, with the Dodgers carrying the distinct advantage. Los Angeles needs only a split in the final two games of the NLCS while Milwaukee needing to win both games at home. Doable? Absolutely. But to do it, the Brewers are going to have to wake up their sleepy bats.
NLCS Game 6
Dodgers vs. Brewers
Ballpark: Miller Park
Time: 8:39 PM Eastern
Pitchers: Hyun-Jin Ryu vs Wade Miley
The Dodgers will give the ball to left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu, who tossed seven shutout innings in Game 1 of the NLDS but allowed two runs and tossed 72 pitches, failing to get out of the fifth inning, in Game 2 against Milwaukee. Even if he again turns in a short outing Dave Roberts should feel pretty confident, however, as the Dodgers’ bullpen — considered a question mark coming into this series — has allowed only three runs in in 21 and two-thirds innings of work.
For Milwaukee it’s once again Wade Miley, who was the Game 5 “starter,” but who pitched to only one batter. I suppose it’s possible that Craig Counsell will burn him like that again, but it seems more likely that Miley will actually pitch in this game rather than be used as a decoy.
As I noted the other day, though, the Brewers’ pitching gamesmanship has not really been a factor in this series. The real problem for them has been their offense. They’ve scored only 16 runs in five games while batting .219. That’s actually identical to the Dodgers’ run total and average overall, but L.A. has been better at distributing that meager offense. Milwaukee has been cold at the worst times, too, going 5-for-35 with runners in scoring position in the series, including one for their last 11. If that doesn’t change, their season ends tonight.