It appears Jake Arrieta is ready to return to the Cubs’ starting rotation, a little over two weeks after suffering a Grade 2 strain of his right hamstring.
Arrieta threw a 25-pitch bullpen session Tuesday afternoon at Tropicana Field, before the Cubs’ series opener against the Rays, and if he reports back to the visitors clubhouse Wednesday without any abnormal discomfort the right-hander will be cleared to take the mound for Thursday night’s series opener at Milwaukee’s Miller Park.
Arrieta is probably going to be limited to 75-80 pitches in what will be his first start since September 4, but he’s a must-play in most leagues with the fantasy calendar drawing to a close.
The impending free agent boasts a 2.01 ERA in 71 2/3 innings since the beginning of July after finishing the month of June with a concerning 4.67 ERA over his first 88 2/3 innings of 2017.
Arrieta will get the Cardinals on the road next week before finishing the regular season with a start versus the lowly Reds, assuming the National League Central-leading Cubs don’t adjust their rotation schedule leading into the playoffs. And, hey, the Brewers can still make this thing a race with a successful weekend against Arrieta and the defending champs.
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Why Not Wilkerson?
Here’s a cool story, and one that might have some fantasy relevance.
Brewers right-hander Aaron Wilkerson, who went undrafted out of Cumberland University in 2012 and began his professional career in independent ball, is scheduled to make his first major league start at age 28 on Wednesday night at Pittsburgh’s PNC Park. Wilkerson was called up to the bigs last week after posting a 3.16 ERA, 1.075 WHIP, and 143/36 K/BB ratio over 142 1/3 innings this season with Double-A Biloxi and he worked a scoreless inning of relief in his MLB debut September 15 against the Marlins, striking out two of the three batters he faced.
He obviously doesn’t have the top-prospect profile or any sort of hype surrounding him, but Wilkerson has turned himself into a legitimate major league talent and he makes for a pretty good streaming option on the road against the Pirates, who rank 28th in runs scored this season.
Harper Humming Along
Tuesday was the most productive day for Bryce Harper since he suffered a bone bruise in his left knee and a strain of his left calf when he slipped on a wet first base bag August 12 at Nationals Park.
Harper hit against live pitching, fielded groundballs in left field, and ran the bases -- albeit lightly -- as part of a simulated game Tuesday afternoon at Atlanta’s SunTrust Park before the Nats’ series opener against the host Braves. “It went well. He moved well. He ran pretty good,” Nationals manager Dusty Baker told the Washington Post after the workout. “His timing was off a little, but not too bad … we’ll just have to see how he feels tomorrow. Tomorrow’s the key.”
There is supposed to be a plan revealed Wednesday about when the Nationals will activate Harper from the disabled list. That activation could happen around the middle of next week, allowing Harper to fit in a few major league games before the beginning of postseason play.
National League Quick Hits: Nationals second baseman Daniel Murphy was scratched from the lineup Tuesday due to left hamstring tightness … Giants manager Bruce Bochy indicated Tuesday that Mark Melancon (forearm) will open the 2018 season as the team's closer … J.T. Realmuto went 3-for-5 and delivered a walkoff homer in the bottom of the 10th as the Marlins edged the Mets on Tuesday … Cardinals center fielder Dexter Fowler hit a game-tying solo homer in the eighth inning and a go-ahead RBI double in the 10th inning of Tuesday's comeback win over the Reds … Matt Harvey will stay in the Mets' rotation despite his recent struggles … Eugenio Suarez was excused from the Reds on Tuesday to be present for the birth of his first child … David Peralta (quad) was held out of the Diamondbacks’ starting lineup Tuesday versus the Padres … Cubs closer Wade Davis struck out the side to earn his 32nd save of the season in Tuesday's win over the Rays … Trea Turner went 2-for-4 with a walk, two steals, and two runs scored against the Braves on Tuesday … Rhys Hoskins reached base three times and drove in four runs in the Phillies' win over the Dodgers on Tuesday … Martin Prado (knee) is not expected to return to the Marlins’ active roster before the end of the season … Matt Kemp (hamstring) remained out of the Braves' lineup Tuesday against the Nationals … Billy Hamilton (thumb) expressed frustration to reporters Tuesday about his slowed rehab plan … Tyler Flowers (hand) took pregame batting practice on Tuesday but won’t return to the Braves’ starting lineup for another couple games … Amed Rosario (stomach) remained out of the Mets' lineup Tuesday night against the Marlins … Marlins closer Brad Ziegler (back) remained unavailable Tuesday due to an illness … Jose Pirela (finger) was out of the Padres’ lineup again on Tuesday … Cubs reliever Hector Rondon (elbow) is scheduled to throw a bullpen session on Wednesday … Adam Wainwright (elbow) was activated off the disabled list Tuesday and will finish the season in the Cardinals’ bullpen … Ivan Nova (calf) expects to make his next scheduled start Friday versus the Cardinals … Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said Tuesday that Brian Goodwin (groin) is "pretty far behind” and unlikely to return this year.
American League Quick Hits: Twins manager Paul Molitor confirmed Tuesday that Miguel Sano (shin) is likely done for the remainder of the 2017 regular season … Alex Gordon hit MLB's 5,694th homer of the year Tuesday, breaking the single-season record … Orioles manager Buck Showalter said he doesn’t anticipate an early shutdown for Dylan Bundy … Jon Morosi of MLB Network reports that the Blue Jays are close to signing starter Marco Estrada to a contract extension … Dustin Pedroia (nose) is hoping to return to the Red Sox starting lineup on Wednesday … Astros closer Ken Giles struck out the side to notch his 32nd save of the season on Tuesday versus the White Sox … Luis Severino will start Wednesday against the Twins, with Masahiro Tanaka getting pushed back to the weekend … Mariners reliever David Phelps underwent surgery Monday to remove a bone spur from his right elbow … Red Sox manager John Farrell said Hanley Ramirez (biceps) should return to the lineup Wednesday … Lance McCullers (arm) is scheduled to throw a bullpen session Wednesday and could return to the Astros’ rotation on Sunday … Kevin Gausman held the Red Sox to just three hits and a walk over eight scoreless innings but settled for a no-decision in Tuesday’s extra-innings loss … Carlos Gomez (ankle) remained sidelined Tuesday … Jordan Zimmermann (neck) will return to the Tigers' rotation Thursday versus the Twins … Aroldis Chapman tossed a scoreless ninth inning to record his 20th save of the season on Tuesday versus the Twins … Blue Jays left-hander Brett Anderson (finger) has been cleared to start Wednesday versus the Royals … Yunel Escobar (oblique) worked out on the field and hit in the cage on Tuesday but there remains no timetable for his return … Jed Lowrie went 3-for-5 with a grand slam and an RBI double to lead the A's past the Tigers on Tuesday … Mariners manager Scott Servais acknowledged Tuesday that Hisashi Iwakuma (shoulder) is likely done for the year … Matt Shoemaker (forearm) resumed throwing Tuesday … Tigers reliever Jeff Ferrell was cleared of any skull fractures following a CT scan … Rays lefty Xavier Cedeno (forearm) will be activated from the disabled list on Thursday.