No. 5: Seattle Mariners, 90-72, SIC Score 90.1
Playing in their first postseason since 2001, the Seattle Mariners enter the Wild Card Series against the Blue Jays with a key question mark in left field. Former Cincinnati Reds outfielder Jesse Winker was scratched from the lineup on Monday with neck stiffness and an MRI this week revealed a cervical disk bulge. He is likely done for the postseason.
Backup left fielder Sam Haggerty is also out for the Wild Card Round after suffering a groin strain in Monday’s loss to the Detroit Tigers. That leaves Jarred Kelenic as the starter in left field. Taylor Trammell was added to the Wild Card roster to replace Winker.
Rookie of the Year favorite Julio Rodriguez recently came off the 10-day IL with a lower back injury, but will likely have no limitations in the postseason. If his back issue flares up he can manage it with a heating pad.
No. 4: Toronto Blue Jays, 92-70, SIC Score 81.5
The early-season dominance of the New York Yankees quickly put the Toronto Blue Jays out of contention for the AL East, but they stayed in the Wild Card hunt all season and remained relatively healthy.
The most immediate concern is No. 1 starting pitcher Kevin Gausman, who left his last start in the third inning with a cut on his middle finger. Thankfully, there is no indication that it will impact his availability for the Wild Card Series.
Gausman, Alek Manoah and Ross Stripling have led the pitching staff that lost its top southpaw, Hyun-Jin Ryu, to his second Tommy John surgery earlier this season.
George Springer has dealt with an elbow injury for much of the season that the Pro Baseball Docs believe is likely a forearm strain and not UCL damage. The 32-year-old, who is tied with Albert Pujols for fifth all-time in playoff homers with 19, has played without issue since returning from the IL and receiving an anti-inflammatory injection in early August.
Left fielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr. has been on the 10-day IL with a left hamstring strain since Sept. 7 and recently began taking live BP. Versatile middle infielder Santiago Espinal suffered an oblique strain on Sept. 21 and has been running the bases and taking BP with Gurriel Jr., but is a little ahead of his teammate in his recovery.
General manager John Schneider said on Wednesday that the expectation is that both of them will be ready for the postseason on Friday, although Gurrel Jr. will likely be limited to a pinch-hit role initially.
On the plus side, the midseason outfield additions of Whit Merrifield and veteran defensive specialist Jackie Bradley Jr. have helped ease their absences.
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