Brandon Phillips could return to action over the weekend

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Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips was removed from Tuesday’s game against the Padres because of a left calf strain and later told reporters that he was going to be out of commission “a while.”

But there is suddenly reason for optimism.

According to John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer, Reds manager Dusty Baker said Wednesday night that Phillips may be able to to return to the lineup at some point during this weekend’s three-game series against the second-place Pirates. He has already been ruled out for Thursday’s finale with the Padres.

Phillips, 31, is batting .296/.336/.457 with 13 home runs, 19 doubles, eight stolen bases and 62 RBI through 401 plate appearances this season for first-place Cincy. The Reds have won 11 of their last 12 games.

Ketel Marte shut down with back injury

Ketel Marte
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With just over a week left in the regular season, the Diamondbacks have elected to shut down infielder/outfielder Ketel Marte. Marte has been dealing with some lower back inflammation and stiffness over the last few days; on Friday, the team revealed that he was diagnosed with a stress reaction as well.

It doesn’t look as though the injury will compromise Marte’s 2020 campaign, but as Craig noted on Wednesday, his absence will likely have some effect on his NL MVP candidacy. The 25-year-old will wrap his first All-Star season with a .329/.389/.592 batting line, 32 home runs, a .981 OPS, and a staggering, career-best 7.1 fWAR through 628 plate appearances.

Marte told reporters Thursday that the back pain had been an issue “for the past two months,” though he didn’t comment on the severity of the injury. Despite his ability to play through the pain since July, the issue has clearly escalated in the last week or so. Although the loss of their most valuable contributor may have a negative impact on the D-backs’ chances of competing in the postseason, it’s undeniably a wise move to let Marte recuperate rather than pushing him to play for another week and running the risk of further injury.

Entering Friday’s series against the Padres — their last road series of the regular season — Arizona still has a sizable gap to close in order to earn one of two NL wild card spots. They’re five games out of postseason contention, with the Nationals, Brewers, Cubs, Mets, and Phillies ahead of them.