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October 6, 2012

Playoff Prospectus

Postseason Collateral Damage

by Corey Dawkins

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Two games in, eight teams remaining. Each of the eight has ongoing injury concerns, which we will review below.

Baltimore Orioles
After coming back from knee surgery to remove a loose body and clean up scar tissue, Jason Hammel tweaked his knee in his second start and has been out since September 11th. Hammel got a reassuring MRI and felt good after his 70-pitch simulated game on Monday. He is the favorite to start on Sunday against the Yankees, but there remains a possibility that it will flare up on him, particularly since it is his landing leg. Steve Johnson reportedly feels much better after throwing a bullpen session and performing fielding drills to test his left knee. An MRI ruled out structural damage but he is wearing a brace to provide comfort and stability. Johnson feels he is ready to go. Nick Markakis is still probably at least another two weeks away, and is healing slower than hoped. The thumb fracture was not the cleanest -- multiple pieces were broken, an injury which typically takes longer to heal. He is hoping to have the pins removed early next week but still needs a few weeks in a splint to improve his motion and strength. Wilson Betemit’s wrist is progressing a little faster than initially expected and he could possibly be ready if the Orioles make it to the ALCS.

The following Orioles are injured and are not expected to return this year: Oliver Drake (shoulder), Randy Wolf (elbow), Brian Roberts (hip), Tsuyoshi Wada (elbow), Stuart Pomeranz (oblique and back), Nick Johnson (wrist), and Nolan Reimold (neck).

New York Yankees
Even though Mark Teixeira is back on the field, he will be at an increased risk of reinjury for the rest of the postseason. It is not a huge risk. Jayson Nix is dealing with a strained left hip flexor and is at least a week away. He might be left off the postseason roster entirely. Robinson Cano is still dealing with a sore left hand but his two home runs on the final day of the season proved he can still be productive.

The following Yankees are injured and are not expected to return this year: Mariano Rivera (ACL), Michael Pineda (shoulder), Dellin Betances (shoulder), Pedro Feliciano (shoulder and ankle), Brad Meyers (shoulder), and Cesar Cabral (elbow).

Detroit Tigers
Ryan Raburn is trying to rehab his strained quad in Florida in hopes of playing in October. Nothing is guaranteed. Max Scherzer came back from a sprained ankle and shoulder fatigue to pitch on the final day of the regular season, but both injuries can linger, particularly the shoulder fatigue. He is expected to return during the ALDS without any restrictions. Dan Schlereth has been rehabbing from his left shoulder tendinitis and may return in the playoffs, but is not guaranteed to return this year. Octavio Dotel will also be followed closely after his late-season sore right biceps.

The following Tigers are injured and are not expected to return this year: Victor Martinez (knee).

Oakland Athletics
Brett Anderson is expected to return from a strained right oblique to start the third game of the ALDS. Brandon McCarthy has been ruled out for the ALDS following surgery to relieve pressure from an epidural hematoma and skull fracture. The Athletics do have some hope that he might return deeper in the playoffs. Coco Crisp has dealt with eye issues all season, which could become a problem again.

The following Athletics are injured and are not expected to return this year: Brandon Inge (shoulder), Eric Sogard (ankle and back), Joey Devine (elbow), Dallas Braden (shoulder), Jordan Norberto (shoulder), Andrew Carignan (elbow), and Scott Sizemore (knee).

Washington Nationals
Mike Morse has dealt with hand, wrist, and thumb issues for a large part of the second half. He has been productive down the stretch but it’s worth monitoring. Ryan Zimmerman was much more productive in the second half after getting a few injections into his right shoulder to combat inflammation. The shoulder is not 100 percent, but he is not expected to miss any time in the playoffs.

The following Nationals are injured and are not expected to return this year: Henry Rodriguez (elbow), Cole Kimball (shoulder), and Wilson Ramos (knee). A special and obligatory mention goes to Stephen Strasburg, who was shut down for the year in September to limit innings on his surgically repaired elbow.

St. Louis Cardinals
Lance Berkman was able make a pinch-hitting appearance in the last regular-season game, following his recovery from another knee surgery. It’s not certain that he will return this postseason. Jake Westbrook has also been improving from his strained right oblique. Both players are day-to-day.

The following Cardinals are injured and are not expected to return this year: Rafael Furcal (elbow), and Kyle McClellan (elbow).

Cincinnati Reds
The Reds are relatively healthy but Ryan Ludwick and Brandon Phillips have both battled leg troubles down the stretch. Both problems could linger. Ludwick is the more likely of the two to have trouble, but he did play in the last several days of the regular season. Aroldis Chapman is another player to monitor because of the shoulder fatigue that caused him to miss almost two weeks in the middle of September.

The following Reds are injured and are not expected to return this year: Ryan Madson (elbow), Nick Masset (shoulder), Bill Bray (back and knee), and Kristopher Negron (knee),

San Francisco Giants
The Giants appear to be the healthiest team left in the playoffs. There was some concern that Buster Posey may have injured his back last week, but he promptly hit a home run the next night.

The following Giants are injured and are not expected to return this year: Eric Surkamp (elbow), Brian Wilson (elbow), and Freddy Sanchez (shoulder and back).

Corey Dawkins is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Corey's other articles. You can contact Corey by clicking here

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