Will injuries reign supreme this October?
As it stands only two teams out of thirty have clinched even a playoff spot. Those two teams are the Los Angeles Dodgers and our very own Boston Red Sox, both of whom have claimed not only a postseason berth, but also their respective divisions as well. As it stands, the Oakland Athletics and the Detroit Tigers look poised to claim their own division crowns within the next week or so.
As I’m sure all baseball fans know, perhaps too well, injuries can, and often do play pivotal roles in the success of teams. All three of the division leaders at this time are almost certain to make the postseason in one capacity or another. As it stands, here’s a look at how any of these three teams quest for a ring could be beset by the injury bug.
July 21, 2013; Anaheim, CA, USA; Oakland Athletics starting pitcher Bartolo Colon (40) celebrates his 6-0 complete game victory with catcher John Jaso (5) against the Los Angeles Angels at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Let’s kick things off with Oakland, because frankly they’re probably in the best position of anyone, at least health-wise. The A’s only have two men on the DL, one on each of the 15 and 60 lists. Rookie Outfielder Michael Choice is currently suffering from food poisoning, but doesn’t look to be out more than a few days, and isn’t even a lock to make any postseason roster.
Catcher John Jaso, on the 15-day disabled list due to a concussion, looks like he could be ready to return to Oakland sooner rather than later. At last check in, Jaso was headed to fall instructional leagues on the 19th of September to put in some tuning. The return of Jaso’s bat to an already potent lineup should provide an instant upgrade over the tandem of Derek Norris and Kurt Suzuki.
Boston Red Sox
While there are bunches of names on the Red Sox disabled list, we fans really only need to be concerned about a handful of guys who aren’t even on the list.
Aug 29, 2013; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Red Sox center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury (2) steals second base before Baltimore Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy (2) can apply the tag during the eighth inning at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports
Most guys are playing most if not every game, but look for Dustin Pedroia, Shane Victorino, Mike Napoli, and maybe even David Ortiz to get time off now and then. The safest course of action is to give these guys time to rest and to ensure that they are all set and ready for October baseball.
Jacoby Ellsbury however is the one guy I’m flying the red flag for. Early reports are positive, and he has begun most if not all baseball activities. Hopefully the sox will be sparing with Ells as he makes his way back from the fracture he played on for nearly a week. If Ellsbury fails to return to form, the Sox will lose one of the most dynamic lead off men in the game. While Shane Victorino has done well filling in for Ellsbury, not having Jacoby means losing two skills, his hitting and running, which have the potential to copletely alter the course of a game or series.
The Tigers seem most likely to get bitten by the injury bug and suffer for it. Miguel Cabrera has been nursing a sore groin for what feels like years and the condition flared up severely enough that the third baseman left Saturday’s game early. Former Sox shortstop, Jose Iglesias has been resting a left hand contusion and is listed as day-to-day. Both of these guys are key cogs in Detroit’s line up, and their losses could really hurt the Tiger’s playoff hopes.
Sep 21, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera (24) makes a throw to first for an out in the seventh inning against the Chicago White Sox at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
In the bullpen, both Bruce Rondon and Phil Coke are battling some elbow discomfort. Flawless returns from them could settle the Detroit bullpen.
In preparation for October, Detroit looks to be hit the hardest by potential long-term injuries. The Tigers still boast one of the best lineups in the AL with or without Miggy, but he is the best hitter in Majors and his loss will hurt the Tigers. Whether he is placed on the DL or just misses a few games, a sore groin has the potential to throw off timing and stance and turn the best hitter into one of the worst.