NL Notes: Marte, Cardinals, Cruz

The Mets issued an official statement on Starling Marte’s fractured right middle finger, saying that a recent CT scan “showed improved healing,” and that the center fielder “will continue baseball activities as tolerated.”  This counts as good news, considering that Marte had to halt his first try at baseball activities last week, due to continued discomfort in his finger.  Marte hasn’t played since his finger was hit by a Mitch Keller pitch on September 6.

It remains to be seen if Marte will be able to make it back before the end of the regular season, let alone by his stated target date of Friday, when New York begins a critical three-game series with the Braves that could decide the NL East.  The Mets have continued to play well (a 12-6 record) since Marte was last in the lineup, but obviously having the All-Star center fielder back will boost the Mets’ chances of both capturing the division and potentially winning the World Series.  There hasn’t yet been any indication that Marte could miss any postseason action, but he’ll have less time to heal if the Mets have to settle for a wild card, and don’t receive a first-round bye.

More from the National League…

  • The Cardinals announced that Miles Mikolas and Jose Quintana will start on Tuesday and Wednesday in the team’s two-game series against the Brewers.  A sweep would clinch the NL Central for St. Louis, who have a commanding 6.5-game lead over Milwaukee but naturally want to get the division fully settled before looking ahead to the playoffs.  Since the Cardinals are a virtual lock to be the NL’s third seed, they’ll have to play in the wild card round, thus giving manager Oliver Marmol a lot to consider about how to best line up his postseason rotation.  Basically, everything is still to be decided, Marmol told Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and other reporters, including the possibility that the Cards might opt with something close to a standard five-man rotation (assuming they advance past the wild card series, of course).  The recent of struggles of Jordan Montgomery and Adam Wainwright — who is also battling a “dead arm” — have also added to the discussion, and St. Louis also has two remaining off-days in the regular season schedule.
  • In other Cardinals updates, Marmol told’s John Denton and other reporters that it may be possible for both Jordan Hicks and Tyler O’Neill to be activated from the injured list before the postseason.  Hicks hasn’t pitched since September 14 due to neck spasms and fatigue in his right arm, but he is set to begin a throwing program on Tuesday.  O’Neill will also begin a running program on Wednesday, as he trise to make it back from a hamstring strain that sent him to the 10-day IL on September 17.
  • Oneil Cruz made two errors in the Pirates’ 8-3 loss to the Cubs today, giving the rookie shortstop 15 errors over 73 games this season at the position.  It made for some unfortunate timing for Pirates GM Ben Cherington, who said in his pregame radio interview (hat tip to Kevin Gorman of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review) that “I see no reason why [Cruz] can’t play shortstop at high level at the major-league level.  I believe he can do it.  Time will tell.  And he’ll tell us.”  Evaluators have long been skeptical about whether or not the 6’7″ Cruz will eventually need a position change, though for the rebuilding Pirates, there really isn’t any reason for the team to not give Cruz a long look at shortstop before deciding if a change is necessary.  Cruz has also played in a handful of games in left field in the minors (and one game in left field in the bigs), which seems like it would be his eventual fallback position if he can’t stick at shortstop.

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