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Right hand tendinitis could keep Kyle Hendricks out until the second half

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Kyle Hendricks might not return before the All-Star break, the Cubs’ right-hander told reporters on Saturday. Earlier this month, Hendricks was diagnosed with tendinitis in his right hand, and underwent several MRIs this weekend that confirmed a mild strain in his middle finger. The injury isn’t severe, nor is it expected to keep Hendricks sidelined on a long-term basis, but the Cubs are playing it safe with their starter until he can work his way back to full strength.

Per Hendricks’ comments, the strain still produces a sharp pain in his middle finger when he grips the ball, preventing him from executing any pitch effectively for the time being. Prior to his setback, he went 4-3 in 11 starts, pitching to a 4.09 ERA, 3.1 BB/9 and 7.4 SO/9 over 61 2/3 innings. It’s a steep drop-off from his 2.13 ERA in 2016, one that put him in the running for both NL Cy Young and MVP consideration.

A timetable has yet to be set for Hendricks’ return to the roster, and he’ll need at least one minor league rehab start before he’s cleared to reclaim his spot on the pitching staff. In his absence, the Cubs will continue to look to left-hander Mike Montgomery to handle the back end of the rotation. Montgomery earned two no-decisions in his first two starts of the year, issuing five runs on nine hits and four walks and striking out nine of 41 batters over nine innings.

Braves clinch postseason spot with 10-1 win over Nationals

Dansby Swanson
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The Braves clinched a postseason berth with Saturday’s 10-1 win over the Nationals. Now, the only question is whether they’ll get there with an NL East division title or via one of two wild card spots currently up for grabs.

Granted, things are looking pretty good on the division title front. After losing their second straight game to the Braves, the Nationals sit 10.5 games back of first place in the NL East, and every other division rival is at least 15 games out. The Braves, meanwhile, carry a magic number of four; should they clinch, it’ll be their 19th franchise title and 14th since they migrated to the East division in 1994.

They certainly looked like postseason contenders on Saturday. Mike Foltynewicz led the charge with six innings of one-run, five-strikeout ball, limiting the Nationals to four hits while rookie right-hander Austin Voth kept the Braves scoreless through 5 2/3 frames. Things started to tip in Atlanta’s favor in the sixth inning: Nick Markakis put the team on the board with an RBI single, and a four-run breakout in the seventh helped cement a sizable lead. Over the last three innings, the Braves found opportunity after opportunity against the Nationals’ bullpen, capitalizing on walks, throwing errors, and productive outs as they climbed toward a double-digit finish.

The win didn’t come without some sacrifice, however. The Braves lost Charlie Culberson to a facial injury after he was struck by a Fernando Rodney fastball in the seventh inning, and they’ll likely be without him for the remainder of the regular season — pending a formal diagnosis, of course. Culberson’s loss isn’t the only one the club is feeling right now, either, as Johan Camargo ended his season with a hairline fracture in his right shin and Freddie Freeman is playing through a minor bout of elbow soreness after making an early exit from Friday’s 5-0 shutout.