Brewers ace Jimmy Nelson out for season with shoulder injuries

The Brewers took a big step toward catching the Cubs in the National League Central by locking up the series Saturday with a 15-2 victory at Wrigley Field.

But they received some sobering news before the game with the announcement that staff ace Jimmy Nelson would miss the rest of the season with a rotator cuff strain and a partially torn anterior labrum in his right shoulder.

Nelson jammed his shoulder Friday night in the fifth inning while sliding back to first base. He remarkably came back out to pitch the bottom of the inning, then left the game after five scoreless innings.

“When he dove back into the bag, something appeared to be wrong,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “But then I thought he was just messing around. Give him credit for pitching the inning and getting through it. That’s not an easy one.”

Jimmy Nelson went 12-6 this season with a 3.49 ERA in 175 1/3 innings. He had 199 strikeouts. | Dylan Buell/Getty Images

Nelson went 12-6 with a 3.49 ERA in 175„ innings. He had 199 strikeouts.

His exit for the playoff-chasing Brewers could be galvanizing or discouraging. Maddon is betting on the former, and the blowout appeared to prove him right.

“They seem like they have a good thing going on over there in the clubhouse,” Maddon said, “so I wouldn’t bet too heavily that it’s going to have any kind of negative drag on them.”

Spring training at Wrigley?

The Cubs’ lineup midway through the rout resembled a spring-training exhibition.

Trailing 11-0 entering the sixth, Maddon yanked nearly every starter. Tommy La Stella replaced Kris Bryant, Victor Caratini came on for Anthony Rizzo and Mike Freeman took over for Javy Baez at shortstop.

Maddon replaced two-thirds of the outfield, as well, bringing on Kyle Schwarber and Leonys Martin for Jon Jay and Jason Heyward. Schwarber moved to catcher in the eighth inning, his fourth appearance behind the plate this season.

“It started out bad, it got worse, and eventually we didn’t get anybody hurt, so that was probably the biggest positive tonight,” Maddon said.

“Getting different guys at-bats, getting the regulars off their feet. [We’ll] play tomorrow and get a day off right after that.”

Contreras in Chicago

Injured catcher Willson Contreras returned to Chicago, but Maddon wasn’t ready to say when he’d be back in the lineup.

Contreras, out since Aug. 9 with a hamstring injury, would be a welcome addition to the Cubs’ slumbering offense. He was hitting .311 with 15 extra-base hits after the All-Star break.

Maddon said it was unlikely that Contreras would play Sunday.

“It’s not impossible, but I don’t know that it’s gonna happen,” Maddon said. “I can’t say it’s impossible because he’s gone through a couple of assignments and seems to be doing well.”

Maddon said he’d have a better idea after speaking to Contreras and team doctors.

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