Ranking Every MLB Contender's Biggest Injury Concern
With only a couple weeks left in the regular season, baseball finds itself in kind of a hairy situation. There is only really one or two division races left and there is a wild card race potentially brewing in the American League. Other than that, most of the races have already been decided. Still, it's interesting to look ahead at the teams that still could make some noise in the final weeks as well as the playoffs. Enjoy.
New York Yankees
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Derek Jeter and A-Rod: A Jeter and A-Rod injury bug for any period of time in the last few weeks could spell a definite problem for the Bronx Bombers. Not having these two stars in the lineup puts Eric Chavez and Eduardo Nunez on the left side. The Yankees would not only lose out in the hitting game but their defense would take a downward turn as well.
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The Sox have been giving up runs just as fast as they score them. Having an injured Josh Beckett isn’t helping matters. Clay Buchholz and Jon Lester both have had injury issues throughout the year, but the one stable force has been Beckett. The Sox need him if they want to make a run at a world championship.
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Fortunately for the Rangers, they have a suitable third baseman in Michael Young. However, the Rangers were counting on Beltre to be another big bat in an already potent lineup. With his hamstring injury that has kept him out for a long period of time, the Rangers have been able to still score runs, but will he be a factor if the Rangers make the playoffs?
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Alex Avila is the lone Tiger on the list that could be banged up going into the final weeks of the season. He is listed as day to day and plays the most demanding position on the field. Outside of Avila, there isn’t really any Tiger that is banged up. This week's series with the White Sox may end the season for the Sox—and for Cleveland—and allow Jim Leyland to start lining up his rotation for the playoffs.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
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The Angels find themselves 2.5 games back beginning this week. They also find themselves in relatively good health going into these final couple weeks. They open up this week with the A’s and can continue to make up ground on the what have become average Texas Rangers. There aren’t many races left in baseball, but this is definitely one of them.
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I’m putting Tampa Bay on this list because they are 3.5 games behind the Red Sox for the wild card. Never in a million years did I think Tampa would be here. Their pitching has been unbelievable and they get the hits when they need to. Johnny Damon is the only player really a possibility of missing games right now. Fortunately for the Rays, he doesn’t toe the mound, so they have as good as chance as any to catch and pass the Sox for the wild card.
St. Louis Cardinals
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The only real injury concern the suddenly hot Cardinals have is if Albert Pujols can stay healthy and not have any nagging things that may set him down for a day or two. The Cards find themselves 6.5 games behind the Brewers going into the last couple weeks of the regular season. The way the Cards have been playing lately, you can’t count them out quite yet.
San Francisco Giants
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Brian Wilson, and his beard, were the talk of baseball in the second half of the season and in the World Series. Now the talk is about his arm injury and not so much the beard. The Giants are battling with the D’Backs for the NL West division title as the wild card seems to be to far off these days, and having an injured Brian Wilson makes that task that much more difficult.
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Since the 1990s, the Braves have been a steady organization with regards to their pitchers. Namely as their pitchers go, so to go the Braves. With Hanson and Jurrjens nursing injuries and the team not sure if they will be available for the playoffs (they will win the wild card), the Braves will have to rely more on scoring runs than giving them up.
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Rollins is listed as day to day (aren’t we all?). This has become a recurring theme for the Phillies' shortstop over the past few years. The Phillies have enough fire power to win game and the staff to win games, but that’s against everybody else. When they play the Brewers and the Braves possibly down the line, they will need to score ever more runs because those two teams can rake. Not having Rollins in the lineup could hurt the Phillies' chances of going deep into the playoffs.
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Weeks was activated from the DL on Thursday from his sprained ankle he suffered in late July. Weeks’ bat would provide even more pop to an already potent lineup with Ryan Braun, Cody Hart and Prince Fielder. The Brewers haven’t missed much with Weeks out of the lineup, but his addition makes them that much scarier for opposing pitchers.
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It really is amazing what the D’Backs have been able to do without Stephen Drew and Jason Marquis, but this young team finds themselves in the middle of a pennant race, and a lot of people are picking them to finish the job. However, they still need a role player and that’s what they have in Xavier Nady. Nady can play the outfield or first base and give the regulars a day off here and there. He has been sidelined with a fractured wrist and is supposed to be back by mid-September, just in time to get at-bats for the postseason. At least that’s what the D’Backs are hoping for.