Banged up down the stretch

Miguel Cabrera is ejected from the game at Angel Stadium, September 8, 2012 - Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE

Does it feel better to know that all the playoff contenders have worries?

The Tigers are in a bit of a funk, having lost six of eight.  The best hitter in the game is playing injured, when he is not resting or being ejected.  The Tigers' best fielder is battling shin splints like a high school cross country runner.  The catcher has had his bell rung so much that he could be wondering whether quarterback would have been a better career choice.

But in the heat of the pennant race, let us remember that all teams deal with concerns after 140 games.

The Red Sox have the best record in the American League.  Their most valuable player by fWAR is Jacoby Ellsbury, and he was just diagnosed with a fractured foot.  Their best starting pitcher by ERA and FIP is Clay Buchholz, and he was shut down with a shoulder injury three months ago.  Both will try to return for the playoffs.

The Oakland Athletics have won 11 and lost only 3 since the start of the series against Detroit when they took three out of four.  Josh Reddick hit 32 home runs last year but only 10 in 2013.  He appeared to finally find his power stroke with five home runs in two days, but promptly sprained his wrist and hit the disabled list.  As a wrist injury can steal power it remains to be seen if he can contribute in the playoffs.

The Rangers have lost five consecutive games started by ace Yu Darvish.  Yu had a strained trapezius muscle at the All Star break, and left the game last night due to a leg cramp.  Besides Darvish and Derek Holland, no other pitcher has made 20 starts.  The Rangers have used eleven different starters due to injuries.  Matt Garza was acquired to plug the gap.

Nelson Cruz and his .511 slugging percentage were lost to the Biogenesis scandal, replaced with Alex RiosElvis Andrus' offense has taken a step back, and potential replacement "sure thing" prospect Jurickson Profar is a bit worse with a .236 / .311 / .332 slash line.

Tampa Bay, Cleveland, Baltimore, and New York are all battling for a Wild Card spot.  With the "one and done" format, one game is plenty to worry about.  It is time for the Tigers to clinch the division so that they can focus on their health.

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