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MLB Teams That Are 1 Player Return Away from Going on a Tear

Chris StephensCorrespondent IIDecember 31, 2016

MLB Teams That Are 1 Player Return Away from Going on a Tear

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    Injuries and missing pieces are commonplace among Major League Baseball teams.

    For some teams, an injured player, or one not on the roster, is all that's missing from making a run in the 2013 season. As we've seen with the San Francisco Giants in two of the past three years, Buster Posey has been a key piece to a world title.

    Here's a look at six teams that are one returning player away from going on a season tear.

New York Yankees

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    It's amazing the New York Yankees have jumped out to a 20-13 record considering all of the injuries they've dealt with early this season.

    Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, Derek Jeter and Curtis Granderson are just of the few who started the season on the disabled list.

    Outside of Rodriguez, bringing one of the other three back would give the Yankees the ability to make a run.

    If they can play top-notch baseball without a few of their hitting stars, then imagine what they could do with one, or all, of them back.

Arizona Diamondbacks

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    The Arizona Diamondbacks are about to get back the one player I believe will help them go on a tear.

    Adam Eaton hasn't played a game this season, but he's guaranteed to be the team's leadoff hitter when he returns from the disabled list.

    While the outfield has been holding its own, Eaton's baserunning abilities are sorely missed. Entering Thursday, the Diamondbacks have stolen 15 bases, but have been caught stealing eight times. Their rate of 65 percent success ranks 25th in baseball.

    Having Eaton on the basepaths will make a huge difference in what Arizona can do.

Boston Red Sox

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    The Boston Red Sox have multiple injuries to their bullpen.

    While Joel Hanrahan has had his fair share of struggles this year, his current stint on the 60-day DL with a sore right elbow, coupled with Andrew Bailey (right biceps inflammation) being on the 15-day DL, has put the Red Sox in a bind when it comes to their bullpen.

    The return of Bailey, at the very least, will help the Red Sox bullpen cut down on their blown saves. They currently rank fifth in the league with six.

    When healthy, Bailey is one of the better relief pitchers in the game.

Washington Nationals

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    While the Washington Nationals don't have any major injuries to speak of, they have many issues with healthy players.

    The Nats can point to Ryan Zimmerman, Adam LaRoche, Gio Gonzalez or Stephen Strasburg.

    All have had their struggles this year and the Nationals need them to return to form. Their struggles have been a major reason why Washington isn't leading the NL East.

    If one of them can return to form, then Washington will be looking good as it heads into the midway point of the season.

Cincinnati Reds

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    Mat Latos has performed well for the Cincinnati Reds, but what the Reds are missing is the true ace of the rotation in Johnny Cueto.

    Cueto was 1-0 with a 2.60 ERA and 18 strikeouts in three starts this year before he strained his triceps.

    He had the best season of his career in 2012, going 19-9 with a 2.78 ERA and 170 strikeouts in 2012. He looked as if he was going to do the same thing this year until his injury.

    The Reds are 3-1 in his spot in the rotation since he went on the DL, but having him back in the rotation is something manager Dusty Baker prefers.

Atlanta Braves

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    The Atlanta Braves have dealt with a few injuries this year.

    Most notably has been the injury to Jonny Venters, who hasn't pitched this year due to elbow trouble.

    The Braves still have one of the best bullpens in baseball, but without Venters, it makes Craig Kimbrel and Eric O'Flaherty have to work that much harder.

    Then there's Jason Heyward, who had an appendectomy while the team was in Colorado.

    Heyward had been struggling at the plate, but there's something about having him in the lineup that makes a difference for the Braves.

    Since he went on the DL, the Braves are 8-8 entering Friday night's game. Before that, they were 13-5.

    Coincidence?

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