DENVER -- Ryan Braun was diagnosed with a mild strain in his left calf after undergoing an MRI exam on Saturday. The veteran outfielder said he expects to be out for the Brewers' final two regular-season games on Saturday and Sunday vs. Colorado but should be ready to play on Monday and beyond -- including a potential Game 163 National League Central tiebreaker, which would take place on Monday in St. Louis.
If the Brewers don't claim the NL Central title, they will play on the road in the NL Wild Card Game on Tuesday against the Nationals.
“I’m very optimistic that whatever games we play beyond Sunday, I’ll be prepared for,” Braun said.
Said president of baseball operations David Stearns: “I think we’re pretty confident that Ryan will be able to play in the postseason. The MRI was good news. I think he’s feeling better today. I think he’s very optimistic he’ll be able to play when we get to the playoffs, if not before then. So, it’s good news.”
Braun was hurt running to first base on a broken-bat RBI single in the first inning of Friday’s 11-7 loss at Colorado that rolled between the Rockies’ middle infielders. After Braun struggled to get loose on defense in the bottom of the first inning, Ben Gamel took over in left field in the second.
Braun said he was feeling better after the game, and better again when he woke up on Saturday morning and went for the MRI. He called the news a relatively positive development.
“It wasn’t worse, which is always a good sign,” Braun said. “All in all, I think probably best-case scenario and encouraging for me and for us. I mean, if the best case was that I’m going to miss a couple of days, I think I’m fortunate it happened yesterday and not [Sunday]. If it happened [Sunday], I think there would be no chance of Tuesday.”
It’s been a productive year for Braun, who has 22 home runs and 75 RBIs thanks in part to a pattern of rest designed to protect his tricky back. This was the first time this season that he has been known to have aggravated his calf.
Braun's absence came on top of another missed start for third baseman Mike Moustakas, who is nursing a sore throwing elbow, though Moustakas returned to the Brewers' lineup on Saturday.
“The timing of it isn’t ideal,” Braun said. “We’ve got a lot of things going on. It’s well-documented, the injuries we’re already dealing with. Moose being out a couple of days. Obviously, we want to be as close to full strength and full health as we can as we approach the end of the season here and get into postseason games.
“So, the timing isn’t idea. It’s part of baseball, though. We’ve dealt with adversity so well as a group. I don’t know how bad it is yet. I’ll get some more information, but as of now I’m optimistic.
Moustakas back in action
As they lost Braun for a couple of days, the Brewers got Moustakas back. Counsell described his two-day break from the starting lineup -- Moustakas did pinch-hit on Friday night -- as somewhat cautionary. The aim was to let Moustakas’ sore right arm calm down a bit so he can push through the team’s remaining games.
“Obviously, I want to be in there every single day, but [Saturday] I wasn’t feeling 100 percent and Counsell was able to give me the day off and that was big, especially going into these last couple of games and into the postseason,” Moustakas said.
He called the issue “nothing too serious” and said it popped up after he was limited for most of a two-week span in late August and early September because of a painful left hand and wrist injury from being struck by a ground ball. When Moustakas jumped back into everyday duty as the Brewers got hot, he developed soreness in his throwing elbow.
“I feel good now. I feel ready to go,” he said.
Davies caps comeback season
Zach Davies went from 13 starts in a frustrating 2018 season to 31 starts and a team-leading 159 2/3 innings in '19 after he capped his regular season with five solid innings against the Rockies on Friday night.
This will mark the first time in the Brewers’ 51 seasons as a franchise that they don’t have a single pitcher with enough innings to qualify for the ERA title, which requires at least one inning for every team game. That’s no fault of Davies, who logged a 3.55 ERA and regularly was removed from games with a manageable pitch count as part of the Brewers’ bullpen-heavy pitching strategy.
“I’m glad I finished strong in the month of September,” Davies said of his 1.93 ERA in his final six starts dating to Aug. 31. “I think every player’s goal is to turn it on in September and show what you’ve got still.”
“Really good regular season for Zach,” Counsell said. “He had a tough year last year, and he responded. I’m proud of him.”
Davies is entering his second offseason of arbitration eligibility after earning $2.6 million this year.