Perhaps it’s my inner Gob Bluth, but with just a week’s worth of games to be played, this truly is the final days of the season. Already the Royals, Blue Jays, Cubs, Pirates and Cardinals have wrapped up a piece of the postseason, yet four of those five teams are still jostling for position with only the Royals able to rest some of their players without fear of slipping to the Wild Card games. Today’s Ambulance Report will first focus on the teams in the postseason.
Carlos Martinez, Cardinals: A right shoulder strain has ended the 24-year-old’s season. An MRI on Saturday revealed a Grade 2 strain and given how he left his previous start after tossing a mere seven pitches, it’s an unsurprising if not disappointing injury. The shoulder shouldn’t require surgery to address, and the right-hander should be back to 100 percent come next year’s spring training, but he won’t toss another pitch this year. Via Brooks Baseball, of the four fastballs Martinez tossed in his most recent outing, they averaged 93.24 mph, a far cry from the 95.75 mph he posted throughout the season.
Adam Wainwright, Cardinals: The baseball overlords taketh away, the baseball overlords giveth. Despite the Cards losing Martinez, they might gain a pitcher back with Wain-o’s possible return. The last thing standing between seeing the 34-year-old veteran pitch again is a doctor’s clearance. Wainwright almost certainly won’t make any starts in the regular season, but he could see some innings out of the bullpen. He tossed 25 pitches on Wednesday then 27 pitches on Saturday in simulated innings of work and his left Achilles held up just fine. He may get a hold or two this week, assuming he gets cleared, but not much beyond that. I’ll be anxiously watching if Wain-o throws a bit more delicately as he lands on his left foot as well as his velocity and command after such a long down time.
Yadier Molina, Cardinals: The catcher suffered torn ligaments in his left thumb and was initially thought to be ruled out for the remainder of the season. Eventually we learned that he won’t require surgery, and it remains possible for Yadi to get back behind the plate before the postseason begins. He’s been icing the thumb regularly and is set to be reevaluated in the next day or two. I’m still benching or dropping him in my leagues as I need production, but it’s at least a good prognosis for next season.
Carlos Gomez, Astros: After being held out of games since September 12 due to an intercostal strain, Gomez appears to be close to returning. It’s possible he’ll return to the field or as a pinch runner as soon as today, though it seems he may not be ready to take any plate appearances just yet. As the linked article notes, Gomez took batting practice on Friday and felt about 50 or 60 percent. Even if he’s limited to a pinch running role in the final week, he’s shown his wheels in previous seasons, however this year Gomez has just 14 steals on 23 attempts. I’d keep him on the bench if you haven’t already dropped him in redraft leagues.
Greg Holland, Royals: I wrote up Holland last week and since then he’s been removed from the closer role and then shut down for the season due to elbow ligament issues. With a bullpen full of quality arms — Wade Davis, Kelvin Herrera and Ryan Madson to name a few — it’s possible even if Holland comes back healthy next year to no longer, he won’t be the club’s closer.
Josh Hamilton, Rangers: Yesterday, and for the first time since August 15, the Rangers played Hamilton in the outfield. The slugger underwent cleanup surgery in his left knee since then, and the team decided to test the 34-year-old in the field before the playoffs begin. From a fantasy perspective, he went 1-for-4 with a trio of strikeouts, but he seemed to handle the outfield well enough. I’d expect him to be eased back into full time action this week — though the Rangers do square off against four left-handers, so expect Hamilton to sit against them — so if you’re feeling frisky in a deep league, he could be worth starting.
Zack Greinke, Dodgers: The right-hander was scratched from his scheduled start on Wednesday after dealing with some soreness in his right calf. He tossed a bullpen session on Friday and is set to make his start tomorrow against the Giants and thus would become a surprise two-start guy in the final week of the season.
Enrique Hernandez, Dodgers: Second baseman/outfielder Hernandez is close to returning to the lineup as he’s expected to be available, if not being in the lineup, for Monday’s’s game. He’s been on the shelf since August 31 due to a strained left hamstring, and after undergoing some tests on Friday, Hernandez felt no ill effects. In his brief stint in the majors so far — just 201 plate appearances and counting — he’s flashed a quick and powerful bat and I’m looking forward to slotting him back into my lineup. His flexibility, not to mention both Yasiel Puig and Jose Peraza both likely being out for the season, make him someone I trust to place into my weekly lineup.