If you're reading this post, you'd probably like the weekly podcast we do. Episode 105 came out today; we discussed our first trip to AT&T Park, the rise in "four true outcomes," and of course, the Cardinals handling of #RallyCat. You can find that here.
2017 has been a pretty normal year for injuries, at least that's how I've perceived it. Yes, key guys have gone down (Kershaw, Trout, Correa, etc.), but none of them had their seasons ended. In fact, the two injuries that bummed me out the most were both to prospects: Alex Reyes and Gleybar Torres. As we head to October, though, several injuries linger over the postseason and cloud teams' chances to go on a World Series run. Here are the five that will impact October baseball the most.
Kershaw was pulled from a start on July 23 with back pain. Because of his previous back issues, this raised red flags immediately. Even he seemed to fear the worst. But, it sounds like the best pitcher in the game could make a return in the next couple weeks. He is slated to throw two innings of a simulated game on Wednesday. On Monday, Dave Roberts said Kershaw would only need one rehab start before joining the Dodgers again. LA is deep everywhere, but especially in starting pitching. However, a dominant Kershaw would be a huge piece to a World Series run that will go through tough lineups like the Nationals, Diamondbacks, Rockies, and Red Sox. In case you forgot, Kershaw has a 2.04 ERA and 0.88 WHIP in 141 innings this year.
Bryce Harper/Stephen Strasburg/Trea Turner
Alright, I cheated. The Nationals have the NL East wrapped up—and have since May. That's incredibly impressive when you consider all the injuries they've dealt with this year. Turner has been out since June 29 with a broken wrist. An early September return seems likely for the shortstop. He give the Nats a stolen base threat, which would do wonders against the Cubs in a potential division series matchup. Strasburg has been out since July 23 with an elbow nerve impingement. Even though he will be back in the next 10 days, that injury doesn't sound temporary. Lastly, baseball fans everywhere dodged a bullet over the weekend. The video below looked TERRIBLE. But, it was just a bad bone bruise and Harper should be good to go by the time October rolls around.
Most Cubs fans would argue that Willson Contreras' return is more important, but I think Russell's presence completely changes the team. When he's playing well, the defense looks completely different; Javier Baez moves over to second and Zobrist is able to take some of Schwarber's innings in left. His bat also makes the lineup deeper, as evidenced by huge homers against the Dodgers and Indians in the playoffs last year. Russell's injury is a bit of a mystery. Initially thought to be a short-term DL stint, his right foot is not close to being ready to return.
Correa injured his thumb the same way Trout did, by tearing a ligament sliding head first into a base. He has been out since July 17. It took Trout six weeks to return; that means Correa is looking at early September. The Astros aren't going to beat teams with their pitching in October. They need Correa and the rest of their dynamic offense to mash. At the time of his injury, Correa was slashing .320/.400/.566. Yeah, I'd say he's important.
David Price/Masahiro Tanaka
Do Red Sox and Yankees fans trust these two? I know I wouldn't. However, because of a lack of depth in both rotations, the two teams desperately need Price and Tanaka to make returns to their younger, healthier selves. The Red Sox have Chris Sale and maybe Drew Pomeranz? The Yankees have Luis Severino and Sonny Gray? Both have been inconsistent. So have Price and Tanaka, but they hold their teams' playoff chances firmly in their grasps.