User ID
Password
  Forgot User ID
or Register Today!
VegasInsider.com
Follow Us on Facebook Follow Us on Twitter Follow Us on Google+ VI Mobile Scores and Betting Odds
Home
NFL
NBA
NHL
MLB
NCAA FB
NCAA BK
Horses
Golf
Auto
Soccer
More
Betting Tools

 
Playoff-bound clubs faced plenty of bumps, bruises

New Sportsbook.ag customers: Make your 1st bet, get your 2nd bet free, 100%, winnings paid in cash.
Join Now

Already have an account? Click here to view new Exclusive Rewards!

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - In a perfect playoff world, Stephen Strasburg might be on the mound in the nation's capital, Mariano Rivera closing it out in the Bronx and Melky Cabrera delivering a timely hit by the bay.

Advertisement
Bartolo Colon would be starting for Oakland, Ryan Madson pitching the ninth in Cincinnati.

Call this the depleted postseason. American League, National League, the division winners and the wild cards, almost every club headed to the playoffs has dealt with a devastating loss of some sort.

Workload, injuries and performance-enhancing drugs - there are all kinds of reasons teams are playing several men down.

Many are left saying ouch in October as the new-look playoffs begin.

The Bay Area took the biggest hit - with a long list of absent players on the Giants and Athletics. Each club moved forward seemingly unfazed, with San Francisco winning its second NL West title in three years and Oakland capturing the AL West crown on the regular season's final day against the two-time reigning AL champion Texas Rangers.

``Twenty-nine teams are going to finish with a loss, and I'd say the No. 1 reason is health, which makes it more spectacular where we are,'' Oakland's Jonny Gomes said.

Both teams also lost a key player because of PEDs, both to positive testosterone tests exactly one week apart. First it was Cabrera on Aug. 15, then Colon on Aug. 22.

``I think every team, when something like that happens, they try to make a statement, to bring the best they can bring, because they still have a job to do,'' Giants center fielder Angel Pagan said. ``And it's about believing if you have enough, too. All these teams, they believe that they can get it done. They have enough to go out there and compete and win. That was our mentality since Day 1. We knew that we didn't have our closer, but we also knew that we had a great bullpen.''

Ending Strasburg's season early was a front-office decision. Washington made the call to shut down its prized pitcher based on workload after 159 1-3 innings and a 15-6 record. Since early May, the New York Yankees have coped without career saves leader Rivera, who underwent right knee surgery in June.

Cabrera tested positive for testosterone and received a 50-game suspension in mid-August. The Giants since decided not to bring him back at all in the postseason if they're still playing when he's eligible - happy with the current roster and certain their public image would take another hit because of PEDs.

Cincinnati missed Madson, who's out for the year with a torn ligament in his elbow, and fellow relievers Nick Masset and Bill Bray also were lost before the year began. Even manager Dusty Baker spent a stint away from the team for 11 games - including the NL Central clincher and Homer Bailey's no-hitter recently while healing from a mini-stroke and irregular heartbeat.

Texas trudged along after starter Neftali Feliz underwent elbow-ligament replacement surgery this summer and without former postseason star Colby Lewis. Then, there's 2011 World Series star Lance Berkman of St. Louis recovering from his second knee surgery of the season Sept. 11, and long-gone Tigers All-Star Victor Martinez healing from his own knee operation.

The Yankees won the AL East and earned the AL's No. 1 seed with a rout of the rival Red Sox in Game 162, but might have been in a far more favorable position and resting the regulars with Rivera still around.

``It's hard to say. You don't know where you would be at,'' manager Joe Girardi said. ``Injuries are hard to predict, when you're going to have them and how you overcome them and what the guys do. ... Obviously we're all a little bit curious, but I don't think it's anything you can predict. But it does seem like we're getting healthier.''

Baltimore manager Buck Showalter lost three leadoff hitters to injury. Nolan Reimold and Brian Roberts both underwent season-ending surgery, and Nick Markakis broke his left thumb last month when hit by a pitch from New York's CC Sabathia.

``It's probably as good a team as I've ever had at staying in the moment,'' Showalter said.

The Braves lost starter Brandon Beachy, who was tied for the best ERA in the majors when he went down in June and underwent Tommy John surgery.

Strasburg's last start came on Sept. 7, when he lasted only three innings and allowed five earned runs against Miami. While the Nationals were expected to let him pitch one more time, he was shut down the following day.

He was out on the field, celebrating with teammates on Monday night, when the Nationals clinched the NL East title. Strasburg sported his white uniform pants yanked up to his knees and flip-flops, saying, ``Just a great feeling, to be a part of this.''

``We're not here without Stephen,'' Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said. ``He's the No. 1 starter on the team with the best record in baseball and the National League East champs, so he's a huge part of what's going on here and will be for a long time to come.''

In San Francisco, the Giants lost All-Star game MVP Cabrera to the 50-game drug suspension after already playing without All-Star closer and 2010 major league saves leader Brian Wilson since he underwent Tommy John surgery in April.

``The dynamic hasn't changed. It shows a team's character and how resilient they are with taking a loss like that,'' Wilson said. ``The system is what works here, no single player is the reason. You can take key player out but the system works because we all pull for each other and we all play for one common goal.''

Wilson, with that overgrown bushy black beard, was a star face of San Francisco's improbable championship run two Octobers ago.

``We lost Wilson as the closer, I was out for two months and on the DL twice, we lost Melky,'' Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval said. ``That was a big deal. He was one of the best hitters for the team. We're fighting. We never lost the faith. We came here and we were patient to win the games. When you lose guys like that, your teammates get your back.''

Across the bay in Oakland, the A's are without several starters in what became an all-rookie rotation. Brandon McCarthy was hit in the head with a line drive from the Angels' Erick Aybar on Sept. 5 and underwent surgery for an epidural hemorrhage, brain contusion and skull fracture.

He is back with the team - and his jersey hangs in the dugout.

As the A's celebrated madly with a champagne dance party in the clubhouse Monday night, McCarthy and Brett Anderson stood in the back and watched. They did their part, too, and might still return in 2012 if all goes right.

Oakland erased a 13-game division deficit from June 30.

``It really is starting to defy any explanation, where if you even thought about writing a movie about this team I don't know where you would even pick the narrative to go with this,'' McCarthy said. ``Things keep going wrong, day after day, game after game, homestand after homestand something happens that we shouldn't be able to overcome. It just doesn't seem to happen, whether September and a nightmare schedule or losing three pitchers and having rookie after rookie come through, and unheralded guys step up over and over and over again. It's just the past the point of being resilient. It's become the norm.''

Dallas Braden, who tossed that improbable perfecto on Mother's Day 2010, missed the year with shoulder problems and had surgery in August to repair his rotator cuff. Third baseman Brandon Inge, who came aboard after Scott Sizemore went down with a season-ending knee injury the first full-squad day at spring training, had surgery last month on his dislocated right shoulder.

``Outside of Bart ... all our other losses were heavy-heart losses,'' Gomes said. ``We don't want to prove we can do this without them, we want to do it for them. We want to do it for Sizemore, who's not here. We want to do it for Inge. We want to do it for Brandon (McCarthy). I made a joke the other day to (manager Bob) Melvin, you know how we're hanging McCarthy's jersey up. I said, `Hey, Bob, I'm going to go in and get Kurt Suzuki, Norberto, Sizemore, Brandon Inge and McCarthy and Brett Anderson's jersey and hang them up, OK?' We've got a closet of jerseys that should be hung up.''

And that same thing could be said for so many playoff clubs at this stage.

---

AP Sports Writers Dave Campbell, Howard Fendrich, Howie Rumberg and Ben Walker contributed to this report.

AP NEWS
The Associated Press News Service

Copyright 2015
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved

  
HEADLINES
Mejia: NL Futures analysis
Mejia: AL Futures analysis
Altuve drives in five, Astros top Angels
Yankees comeback, destroy Rangers 21-5
Fernandez perfect at home, Fish top Nats
After trading Papelbon, Phils beat Jays
Syndergaard dominates, Mets blank Padres
Rockies trade SS Tulowitzki to Jays
MORE HEADLINES
 
Why Buy Picks From VegasInsider.com
MLB Pro Baseball Handicapper Sports Picks Records
MLB Hot Streaks
5-1 Y'day, 24-6 L30, 33-11 L5 Days
6-1 +528 L2 Days, 5-1 +451 GPlays
6-1 Streak, 12-5 +719 L17 G-Plays
5-0 G-Plays, 11-3 +782 L14 Picks
13-7 Run, 19-8 +1,195 L27 G-Plays
14-7 Last 21 Guarantees
4-0, +434 Last 4 G-Plays
3-1 L4 Picks, 10-4 L14 Guarantees
9-5 +492 L3 Days, 13-7 +717 L20
2-0 +227 LN, 11-5 +636 L16 Picks
21-11 L32 G-Plays, 10-4 L14 Totals
3-1, +296 Win Streak
5-2 +302 Y'day, 8-3 +502 L3 Days
MLB Pro Baseball Expert Sports Picks-
2015 MLB SEASON PICK RECORDS
Money Leaders
Handicapper Money
Joe Nelson + 1380
Scott Pritchard + 1348
Dave Cokin + 1199
Underdog Leaders
Handicapper Money
Kevin Rogers + 1670
Dave Cokin + 1456
Joe Nelson + 1156
Over-Under Leaders
Handicapper Money
John Fisher + 729
Kyle Hunter + 705
Marc Lawrence + 405
Guaranteed Leaders
Handicapper Money
Bruce Marshall + 1359
Joe Nelson + 1336
Chip Chirimbes + 967
Favorite Leaders
Handicapper Money
Chip Chirimbes + 1475
Vince Akins + 1168
Mark Franco + 1124
Member Leaders
Handicapper Money
Chip Chirimbes + 1374
Stephen Nover + 770
Jimmy Boyd + 402
MORE PICK RECORDS
  
corner graphic
With a VI Gold Membership, you can SAVE 10% off a Live Odds subscription, SAVE 20% off Daily Pick packages, and receive access to up to 1,000 Member Plays each month!
VI Daily Fantasy Sager Bomb