Sunday: Cain is indeed out of today’s lineup, a must-win if the Brewers are to have any hope of capturing their second consecutive NL Central title.
Saturday: The Brewers have already clinched at least a wild card berth, and they’ll head into the last day of the regular just a game behind the Cardinals for the NL Central lead. As the team continues to try and force a one-game playoff for the division crown, however, they continue to deal with some significant injury problems in their outfield.
In the top of the ninth inning on Saturday, Lorenzo Cain took a hard slide into Rockies catcher Drew Butera, as Cain was trying to score from first on a double. Cain was called out, and then replaced in center field prior to the bottom half of the inning. The Brewers announced that Cain suffered a left ankle sprain, and the outfielder told MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy and other reporters that he wasn’t sure if he could play on Sunday.
A similar injury forced Cain out of a game back on Sept. 20, though he didn’t end up missing any time. 2019 has been a tough season in general for Cain, who hasn’t spent any time on the injured list but has been dealing with a wide range of nagging problems to his oblique, wrist, and thumb all year. The result has been the worst full season (.260/.325/.372 over 643 PA) of Cain’s career, though he has hit much better in September to help carry the Brew Crew back into the postseason. Just on Saturday alone, Cain went 2-for-3 with a walk, and made an exceptional catch to prevent a Garrett Hampson home run.
It remains to be seen if Cain’s ankle problem could keep him out of a potential tiebreaker game with the Cardinals on Monday or the Brewers’ current postseason date, Tuesday’s National League wild card game against the Nationals. One player who does plan to be available beyond the regular season is Ryan Braun, as the outfielder told McCalvy and other media members that he is “very optimistic” that his mild left calf strain isn’t a major issue. Braun left Friday’s game with the injury, and it was already known that he would sit out Milwaukee’s final two regular season contests.
Braun has been no stranger to injuries in recent years, though his 144 games played this season represents his highest total since 2012. The 35-year-old has been both pretty durable and productive in his 13th MLB season, as Braun has hit .285/.343/.505 with 22 homers over 508 plate appearances.
With Cain and Braun nursing injuries and Christian Yelich already done for the season, the Brewers are in danger of being without their entire Opening Day outfield as they head into the playoffs. Ben Gamel is Milwaukee’s primary fourth outfielder, with utilityman Cory Spangenberg and rookies Trent Grisham and Tyrone Taylor also capable of filling in, while Eric Thames could potentially step into right field if he isn’t needed at first base.