Dan's Dugout: Injuries Could Shape Playoffs • Latino Sports

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Dan’s Dugout: Injuries Could Shape Playoffs

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FLUSHING, NY — With just two weeks left to the regular season, contending clubs are just trying to keep healthy.

The Cards need long-time leader Yadier Molina

The Cards need long-time leader Yadier Molina

The St. Louis Cardinals suffered a serious setback Monday when catcher Yadier Molina, a seven-time All-Star, suffered a torn ligament in his left thumb.

Since he bats and throws righthanded, the Cards hope their on-the-field leader won’t be sidelined for the playoffs. St. Louis is the only team to have clinched a postseason spot so far. Without Molina, however, how far can the Cards advance?

On the plus side, Adam Wainwright might surface in time to make a difference. The long-time ace of the Cardinals, sidelined since April with a ruptured Achilles, is striving to get into pitching shape by the time the playoffs start.

What Wainwright can do is problematical, however, since it’s unlikely he’ll be able to pitch deep into a game. During spring training, pitchers need more than a month to round into shape. And Wainwright would need the equivalent of another spring training. There’s not enough time — unless he’s willing to work in relief.

Staying healthy, for both the short term and the long term, also concerns other contenders.

The New York Yankees, starting their final two weeks with a critical series against the front-running Blue Jays in Toronto, have already lost slugging first baseman Mark Teixeira (fractured shin) and don’t know whether they’ll have starting pitcher Nathan Eovaldi (elbow).

Masahiro Tanaka, whose starts are already limited because of an uncertain elbow, now has to worry about a mild hamstring pull, suffered when trying to beat out a bunt (no DH in NL parks) . . .

Veteran lefthander CC Sabathia, fighting both age and weight, has apparently found a knee brace that works; his Sunday night win against the Mets at CitiField might have been his biggest of the year.

Although the Mets have a Sabathia clone in portly Bartolo Colon, the

Matt Harvey's elbow could complicate the Mets' postseason

Matt Harvey’s elbow could complicate the Mets’ postseason

denizens of Flushing are focused on protecting the elbows of Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Steven Matz, and Noah Syndergaard.

Harvey created a firestorm when he announced his own pitch limit after consulting with agent Scott Boras and surgeon Dr. James Andrews, who performed his Tommy John surgery.

Mets manager Terry Collins, though anxious to clinch the National League East title, is also anxious to protect the futures of his promising pitching corps. Yet be bristles when asked too many questions on that subject.

Before the Braves-Mets game Monday, Collins lost his cool when a writer asked whether he would be happy if all his pitchers emerged unscatched no matter what.

With the Washington Nationals playing well again and the Mets dropping four of five entering the Braves series, the manager was a bit more temperamental than usual. But that was understandable.

Under the current format, whomever loses the NL East race will go home for the winter; it’s virtually certain that the Central Division will send three teams into October, with the Cubs and Pirates likely to vie in the wild-card game and the Cards en route to the game’s best record.

Elsewhere in baseball:

Josh Donaldson has a lock on AL MVP honors

Josh Donaldson has a lock on AL MVP honors

The 2015 season will have at least six 40-homer men: Nelson Cruz, Chris Davis, and Bryce Harper are there, with Josh Donaldson, Nolan Arenado, and Mike Trout each one behind . . .

Kansas City’s Kendrys Morales, who scored half his team’s runs in a 10-3 win over Detroit Sunday, has given the Royals a huge boost . . .

Two-time Tommy John victim Kris Medlen has won five of his first six for Kaycee, which gambled when it inked the ex-Brave as a free agent . . .

The Mets are desperate to seize Division Series home-field

Zack Greinke (left) and Clayton Kershaw are the "two animals" feared by the Mets

Zack Greinke (left) and Clayton Kershaw are the “two animals” feared by the Mets

advantage from the Dodgers, with Terry Collins explaining, “It beats facing those two animals (Cy Young Award contenders Zack Grienke and Clayton Kershaw) out there in the shadows.” . . .

The White Sox-Indians game at Cleveland Sunday drew a paltry crowd of 13,282 — the figure that was announced . . .

Toronto already has three 100-RBI men in Josh Donaldson, Jose Bautista, and Edwin Encarnacion . . .

The hot second half of Yankees outfielder Carlos Beltran reduces the sting of prolonged slumps by Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner . . .

The last team to win 100 games was the 2011 Philadelphia Phillies . . .

Brian McCann has been a durable backstop for the Yanks

Brian McCann has been a durable backstop for the Yanks

Durable Yankees slugger Brian McCann will start more games as a catcher this year than in any year since 2010 . . .

Baseball America’s Minor League Player of the Year, 22-year-old lefthander Blake Snell, could crack the Tampa Bay rotation next season after going 15-4 with a 1.41 ERA on two levels of the minors.

 

About Dan Schlossberg

Former AP sportswriter Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, NJ has produced 35 baseball books, including autobiographies of Ron Blomberg, Al Clark, and Milo Hamilton. Also a broadcaster, he is the host and executive producer of Braves Banter and Travel Itch Radio and a contributor to Sirius XM.

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