File this under Deep Thoughts, I guess, but I’m struck by the remaining schedules of the NL Wild Card contenders:
Cardinals: Cubs, Astros, Nationals, Reds;
Brewers: Nationals, Reds, Astros, Padres;
Dodgers: Reds, Padres, Rockies Giants
The Cards seem to have the easiest go of it, with two cupcake teams and two teams that have clinched the playoffs and will either be resting their players or, at the very least, may not quite have that eye of the tiger you’d see if they hadn’t clinched.
That Padres series for the Brewers is sorta dangerous, as San Diego is in Play for Pride mode. I mean, yes, I suppose the Cubs and Astros are too, but the Padres at least have talent to make such an inspiration meaningful.
Schedule often doesn’t matter that much in baseball, but it’s interesting to see just how much the Astros are affecting everything, what with beating the Phillies last week and then having so many games against the contenders late.
Down the stretch they come.
Dodgers southpaw Clayton Kershaw is nearing his return to the mound, according to club manager Dave Roberts. Both Kershaw (left biceps tendinitis) and fellow lefty Rich Hill (left middle finger blister) are scheduled to toss simulated games on Saturday; depending on the outcome, Roberts says Kershaw could forgo a minor league assignment and slot back into the rotation by Thursday.
Kershaw, 30, was diagnosed with biceps tendinitis as the team closed out their Mexico Series at the start of the month. He has not made a start in several weeks, but was finally able to resume throwing on Sunday and managed to get through two successful bullpen sessions. Though Dodgers’ ace hasn’t been completely injury-free over his 11-year career in the majors, this is the first significant issue he’s had with his pitching arm so far. The team is expected to take every precaution with the lefty, and will likely limit him to just four innings during Saturday’s simulated game.
Prior to his injury, Kershaw was working on another dominant run with the club, sporting a 2.86 ERA, 2.0 BB/9 and 9.8 SO/9 through his first 44 innings of the season. While Kershaw, Hill and left-handed starter Hyun-Jin Ryu served their respective terms on the disabled list this month, the Dodgers utilized a combination of relievers Ross Stripling and Brock Stewart, both of whom impressed during their limited time in the rotation.