MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian offers that the “expectation” is that Cubs closer Craig Kimbrel will be activated for Sunday’s contest with the Pirates. Signed this midseason to a 3-year/$43MM contract, Kimbrel got off to a rocky start in Chicago before a knee injury robbed him of participation in the club’s last 13 games. Through his first 14 appearances in blue pinstripes, the bearded hurler holds a 5.68 ERA across 12.2 IP. While the club is yet to announce his activation, Gordon Wittenmeyer points out that Kimbrel was on the team’s travel roster for their charter to Williamsport, Pennsylvania, and is indeed expected to be activated from the injured list in time for the third edition of MLB’s Little League Classic (link).
Wittenmeyer also relays that Steve Cishek appears as though he’ll be ready to return from the IL on Tuesday after throwing another bullpen session Saturday. Both returns would be welcome news for Cubs skipper Joe Maddon, who has been tinkering with troublesome iterations of Pedro Strop, Kyle Ryan, Derek Holland, and Brandon Kintzler in late-game situations.
More news from around the senior circuit…
- Saturday saw sidelined Nationals ace Max Scherzer throwing his second simulated game of the week, and MASN’s Mark Zuckerman reports that the legendary righty is on track to return on Thursday. “He felt good,” manager Dave Martinez told Zuckerman. “He’s a little bit ornery, but that’s a good thing. Now we’ll see how he feels tomorrow.” It hardly counts as high-level baseball journalism to say that the Nationals are going to need Scherzer in peak form in coming weeks. Sitting atop the tightly packed NL Wild Card race, Washington will play 11 games before season’s end against the Brewers, Mets, Cubs, and Phillies–four teams currently chomping at their heels for the right to play in the postseason play-in game. When healthy, the 35-year-old righty has posted typically ridiculous numbers, with a 2.41 ERA, 2.09 FIP, 12.66 K/9, and 1.67 BB/9 in 134.1 innings this year.
- Though the Braves lost Ender Inciarte to injury this weekend, it’s not all doom and gloom out of the Big Peach–as noted in an article from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Gabriel Burns, sturdy shortstop performer Dansby Swanson is ramping up baseball activities. The 25-year-old infielder has missed 22 games this year due to an incidental heel injury but was seen taking ground balls before Saturday’s game. Before being hurt, Swanson was putting together his most complete full-season at the plate, with 17 home runs and a 102 wRC+ in 100 games. His injury was partly responsible for the team’s signing of defensive specialist Adeiny Hechavarria, but the team would eagerly clear a place for Swanson at the team table if he were able to return by late August as currently expected. Atlanta holds a 4.5 game lead in the race for the NL East pennant.