The MLB playoffs begin three weeks from Tuesday night (!), and teams are battling down the stretch for a Wild Card spot or divisional supremacy. A few players may be on the outside looking in, so here are six injuries that could decide the MLB postseason, somewhat stripping agency away from the players actually on the field.
6. Nick Markakis
The veteran outfielder is still recovering from a wrist injury on the 10-day IL, and is scheduled to take live batting practice on Wednesday. Last year, the former Oriole helped lead the Braves to the playoffs while winning his first career Gold Glove and Silver Slugger, finally making the All-Star team, and even getting MVP votes. If he's available, even in a part-time capacity, for the Bravos' stretch run, that could be huge. If not? It's one fewer big-time depth piece.
5. Mike Moustakas
A World Champion with the Royals, Moustakas has hit 31 home runs and driven in 76 this season with the Brewers. He is day-to-day with a wrist injury at the moment, but took batting practice on Monday. The Brewers could sure use his power; they're within two games of the second Wild Card Cubs, and six games back of the division-leading Cardinals.
4. Carlos Correa
Correa's back injury has placed him on the 10-day IL, though he could make a rehab appearance for Triple-A Round Rock on Friday, assuming the team advances through the PCL Playoffs. Though the Astros pretty much have the division in hand, Correa's health will be important as they battle with the Yankees and Dodgers for home-field throughout the postseason.
3. Javier Baez
The Cubs' second baseman-turned-shortstop has been critical to the team's success, especially with Addison Russell having only played 76 ineffective games this year. Baez has a hairline fracture in his left thumb and is unlikely to play again this September, begging the question, "Will the Cubs have an October?"
2. Mike Tauchman
Though the Yankees are quite deep in theory, Tauchman had to pick up a lot of the slack this summer, and was a welcome addition, with 13 home runs and 47 RBI in just 87 games, along with elite defense. He will miss the entire regular season and quite possibly the entire postseason with a grade two calf strain. Suddenly, the Yankees' outfield depth, pending a Giancarlo Stanton comeback, isn't so sound.
1. Corey Kluber
Cleveland's ace has only pitched in seven games this year due to an oblique injury. He is still limited to aquatic exercise while on the 60-day IL. The Indians rotation has been solid, but Kluber was the workhorse they needed to get to the World Series in 2016, and was supposed to fill Trevor Bauer's starts to complete their deadline master plan. A half-game back of Oakland for the second Wild Card, Cleveland needs to find its form just to reach October.