Kendrys Morales is still a major question mark nearly two years removed from breaking his lower left leg while jumping onto home plate following a game-winning-home grand slam, but he did get some good news after visiting his doctor in Colorado earlier this week.
According to Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times, Morales was cleared to “ramp up” some baseball activities. While he was previously jogging on a “de-weighted” treadmill and hitting off a tee in Arizona, he has already begun running under his own body weight. The real test will come when Morales begins running the bases aggressively, but this is a very positive early sign.
The Angels tendered Morales a contract this offseason, despite the fact that he hasn’t played in a professional game since May 29, 2010. The 28-year-old switch-hitter figures to make around $4 million in his second year of arbitration, but the benefits are obviously huge if he can bounce back to his 2009 form. Mark Trumbo is behind in his rehab from foot surgery, but the Angels still have enough depth that they can afford to bring Morales along slowly.
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.