Miguel Montero insisted last week that he could play through a left sprained thumb and sure enough the Cubs have activated the veteran catcher from the disabled list one day after he hit a grand slam at Double-A.
Montero has been out since July 11 and returns after just four minor-league rehab games, but how much action he’ll see behind the plate is unclear because of rookie phenom Kyle Schwarber’s emergence in his absence.
Schwarber, who came into the season as one of the top 20 prospects in baseball and crushed Double-A and Triple-A pitching before being called up, has hit .342 with six homers and a 1.061 OPS in 25 games for the Cubs.
Schwarber’s defense behind the plate is considered raw and the Cubs have given him some time in left field to keep his bat in the lineup, but it seems clear that Montero (and veteran backup David Ross) will see fewer starts behind the plate than they did before Schwarber’s arrival.
Montero is owed $14 million in both 2016 and 2017, and while his .729 OPS this season and .761 career OPS can’t compare to Schwarber’s offensive potential it’s above-average production for a catcher.
Things haven’t gone quite according to plan for the Astros, who missed the opportunity to clinch the American League Championship Series after losing 4-1 to the Yankees in Game 5 on Friday. Still just one win away from a World Series invitation, they’ll try their luck again on Saturday night.
Neither lineup has been significantly altered for Game 6. The Yankees will try to push the series to a final Game 7 with right-hander Chad Green, backed by this configuration:
1. DJ LeMahieu (R) 1B
2. Aaron Judge (R) RF
3. Gleyber Torres (R) 2B
4. Aaron Hicks (S) CF
5. Edwin Encarnación (R) DH
6. Didi Gregorius (L) SS
7. Gary Sánchez (R) C
8. Gio Urshela (R) 3B
9. Brett Gardner (L) LF
The Astros, meanwhile, will send Brad Peacock to the mound in what figures to be a bullpen game for both sides, marking the righty’s first official postseason start since the 2017 ALDS. Martín Maldonado is back in the lineup, as is Josh Reddick, while both Robinson Chirinos and Jack Marisnick will be available off the bench.
1. George Springer (R) CF
2. José Altuve (R) 2B
3. Michael Brantley (L) LF
4. Alex Bregman (R) 3B
5. Yuli Gurriel (R) 1B
6. Carlos Correa (R) SS
7. Yordan Álvarez (L) DH
8. Martín Maldonado (R) C
9. Josh Reddick (L) RF
Starting tonight, the ALCS returns to Houston for Game 6 and a potential Game 7. Game time is set for 8:08 PM EDT.