Brewers' Sheets to start Saturday despite sore elbow

MILWAUKEE -- Brewers pitcher Ben Sheets looked interim manager Dale Sveum square in the eyes and told him he thought he'd be ready to go Saturday.

That's all Sveum needed to hear.

Sheets will start Saturday against the Cubs despite a sore elbow that forced him to leave his last appearance on Sept. 17 against Chicago. The Brewers entered Friday's game tied with the New York Mets in the NL wild-card standings.

"I'm going to try to get outs," Sheets said. "I've got the same expectations that I always do. I'm going to try and go out there to give us good quality innings as long as I can."

Sheets, the starter for the NL in the All-Star game, has slumped in the second half but still represents one of the Brewers' best options in their desperate postseason push.

"For him to look you straight in the face and say, 'I feel fine,' that's good enough for me," Sveum said. "He's one of the best pitchers in baseball when he's healthy."

Sheets (13-8, 2.98 ERA) threw about 20 pitches in the bullpen on Thursday, but the big right-hander said he felt good enough to test the arm in what could be his final start before free agency.

"I wanted to pitch bad, but I want to make every start, regardless of the magnitude. If it's my day, I want to go out there. That being said, the magnitude is probably the biggest reason that we're going to try," Sheets said. "We don't have any days to rest. If this was July, you might have another day to rest it. This is it. This is the realistic part of the season."

Sveum said he doesn't plan to put Sheets on a pitch count.

"He's going to pitch as long as he's effective," the manager said.

Sveum had planned to use Dave Bush on three days' rest for the second straight time if Sheets wasn't available. Instead, Bush will go to the bullpen and backup Sheets. If needed, the Brewers plan to pitch CC Sabathia on Sunday on short rest for the third consecutive start.

Sveum had said it would take a "small miracle" for Sheets to return, but never ruled it out. The Brewers are seeking their first postseason berth since 1982.

In Sheets' last appearance, he went two innings before leaving and the Brewers went on to win 6-2 over the Cubs. That was Milwaukee's last victory before the current four-game winning streak it carried into Friday night.

Sheets said he's no hero if he goes out there and fails.

"If I can't pitch, I can't pitch. For me to sit here and act tough like I'm a hero -- I'm not," Sheets said. "If my arm lets me pitch, I'm going to go out there and pitch the best I can. If it don't, I'm not going to pitch.

"Right now it feels like it's going to let me go so I'm going to give it the best that I got."