Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant has been activated from the 10-day disabled list and will start in Saturday’s game against the Phillies, per a club announcement. Bryant hasn’t appeared in the majors since July 23, when he suffered another bout of chronic left shoulder soreness, but has made steady progress in a lengthy rehab stint since then.
Despite losing nearly nine weeks of the regular season to shoulder issues, the 26-year-old infielder maintained a healthy .276/.380/.474 batting line, 11 home runs and an .854 OPS through 358 plate appearances in 2018. As this is the first protracted absence he’s taken from the game, it’s not certain that he’ll be able to produce the kind of All Star-level output the Cubs saw from him over the last three years, though he managed to successfully complete his latest rehab assignment in Triple-A without signs of further setbacks.
With the return of the 40-man roster, the Cubs also reinstated Addison Russell from the 10-day DL (left middle finger sprain) on Saturday, though they don’t expect to use him as much more than a defensive replacement for the time being. James Norwood, Terrance Gore, and Taylor Davis were brought up from Triple-A Iowa as well.
The Yankees defeated the Astros 4-1 during Game 5 of the American League Championship Series on Friday night, staving off a potential postseason elimination and forcing the series to at least six games.
In just the third playoff appearance of his career, Yankees southpaw James Paxton turned in another impressive performance, limiting the Astros to four hits and four walks over six innings of one-run ball. According to MLB Stats, his nine strikeouts made him the second Yankees lefty to record multiple starts of 8+ strikeouts in the same postseason campaign, two decades after David Wells did so for the 1998 championship-winning club.
Paxton’s strong outing was backed by a handful of runs from DJ LeMahieu and Aaron Hicks, both of whom went deep against Astros ace Justin Verlander in the bottom of the first inning. LeMahieu’s leadoff solo shot marked his first postseason home run since Game 1 of the ALDS, while Hicks’ three-run 347-footer was his first home run of any variety since July 24 (and his first in the playoffs since the 2017 ALDS).
Neither team managed a single run after the first inning, leaving the two pitching staffs to duke it out for eight quick innings. Verlander outlasted Paxton — taking the game through the seventh with five hits, four runs, and nine strikeouts — but even with a flawless contribution from Brad Peacock in the eighth, there was little the hurlers could do to help the Astros solve Paxton and an airtight Yankees bullpen.
With the win, the Yankees will try to push the series to a full seven games in order to snatch the AL pennant from the Astros. They’ll have to do in Houston, however, as the Astros will regain home field advantage when Game 6 kicks off on Saturday at 8:08 PM EDT. Neither starter has been announced yet; per Houston skipper A.J. Hinch, it will likely be a bullpen day.