Injuries are a part of any sport, especially baseball. The marathon MLB schedule takes its toll on players, handing out stints on the 15-day disabled list like crappy candy on Halloween.
Keeping a close eye on these injuries and when impact players are expected back is a great way to stay ahead of the curve. Here’s a look at five clubs bringing back some top talent just in time for the final two months of the schedule:
Tampa Bay Rays (59-52)
The Rays have been the model of inconsistency this season, following a recent three-game winning streak the Rays had back-to-back losses before ripping off another three-game streak this week. Thankfully for Tampa Bay, All-Star third baseman Evan Longoria is expected to return from the 60-day DL due to a lingering hamstring injury.
Longoria, when healthy, is considered one of the most valuable players to the moneyline, which is why the Rays are -10.40 units without him in the lineup this season. Tampa Bay is six games back in the AL East and 0.5 out of the AL Wildcard. Longoria’s return could be the spark to set the Rays right down the stretch.
Toronto Blue Jays (53-58)
No team in the American League has suffered through more injuries than the Blue Jays. That rash of ailments have impact the lineup and the rotation, including sluggers Jose Bautista, Brett Lawrie and Adam Lind. Bautista just came off the 15-day DL but his sprained wrist isn’t ready to roll just yet. BC’s Brett Lawrie was added to the 15-day DL this week and Lind is back at BP while nursing a bad back and is expected to return as soon as Friday.
Starter Brandon Morrow has started his rehab work in Double-A ball and if he puts in another solid effort, he could get the OK to return to Toronto for the home stretch. Morrow was 7-4 with a 3.01 ERA before suffering a strained left oblique on June 11.
Miami Marlins (51-61)
There are a few new faces in the Marlins clubhouse since Giancarlo Stanton last suited up. Miami’s slugger limped into the All-Star break with a bum knee and underwent arthroscopic surgery, which landed him on the 15-day DL. Stanton is back and leads the team with a .284 BA, and has 19 home runs and 50 RBIs this season.
Left fielder Logan Morrison is currently on the 15-day DL with right knee inflammation and could still undergo season-ending surgery. However, the team is aiming to have him at first base next season and may give Morrison, who has 11 home runs and 36 RBIs, a stint at first if he’s able to go in the near future.
Cincinnati Reds (66-46)
Joey who? The Reds have marched on despite All-Star first baseman Joey Votto hitting the 15-day DL after undergoing surgery to repair a torn meniscus. Votto, who was expected to be out four weeks, looks good during his rehab and is running at full speed. Cincinnati has played well without him, going 17-9 without Votto in the lineup this season.
The Reds also dodged a bullet with second baseman Brandon Phillips. He sat out five games due to a strained left calf and avoided a stint on the disabled list. Cincinnati has a 2.5-game lead in the NL Central and has the second best record, behind Washington, in the bigs this season.
Texas Rangers (65-45)
The Rangers will get some key arms back just in time. Texas watched its grip on the AL West slip with a 9-14 record in July, thanks in part of a chunky 4.24 collective ERA. Relievers Mark Lowe and Koji Uehara are expected back soon, providing some depth to the bullpen before the playoff push really heats up.
Lowe says he’s feeling good after tune-ups following a strained intercoastal muscle and Uehara is slowly coming back from a strained lat muscle. The Rangers expect him to toss some trial pitches this weekend but may wait until the expanded rosters on 1 September to bring him back.