The best-of-five Division Series -- the second round of the Major League Baseball postseason -- has arrived. What mere days ago was a 12-team playoff field is now down to eight: the Atlanta Braves, Baltimore Orioles, Los Angeles Dodgers, Houston Astros, Philadelphia Phillies, Minnesota Twins, Arizona Diamondbacks, and Texas Rangers. Unfortunately, many of these same teams have injury concerns just as the stakes are getting even higher. The announcements of the LDS rosters on Saturday shed light on the most important of these injuries, and we'll now run those down in advance of the Game 1s.
Scherzer not ready for Texas
Veteran right-hander Max Scherzer against the Baltimore Orioles because of the shoulder strained that's sidelined him since Sept. 12. The last-minute nature of the decision raises the possibility that Scherzer could be a part of the team's ALCS roster should they advance that far. However, the 39-year-old three-time Cy Young winner won't be a part of the Rangers' efforts to upset top-seed Baltimore in the ALDS.
Hopes were initially raised when Scherzer was able to take a significant step forward on Friday by throwing two simulated innings of live batting practice. "I'm in a learning curve," Scherzer said afterward. "I'm coming out of a shoulder problem here, and I'm learning what my shoulder can and can't do. So much of this battle for me getting back has been in the recovery process from throwing. It's a positive sign to go out there and go against hitters, but I've got to recover."
That recovery, however, presumably wasn't sufficient to land him on the roster for the second round of the postseason.
No Means for O's
Orioles left-hander John Means will be left off the club's roster for their American League Division Series match-up against the Rangers, manager Brandon Hyde told reporters on Saturday. Hyde said Means is dealing with elbow soreness but is likely to be added to the team's ALCS roster should the Orioles advance to the next round.
Means, 30, worked his way back from April 2022 Tommy John surgery this season in time to make four starts down the stretch for the AL East champs and top seed in the AL postseason bracket. Over that span, he clocked an ERA of 2.66 with 10 strikeouts and four walks in 23 2/3 innings. For his career, he has a strong ERA+ of 122 over parts of six major-league seasons, all with the Orioles. It's not certain what kind of role Means would fill for the Orioles should they advance to face either the Astros or Twins in the ALCS, but regardless of specifics he's an important piece for them.
Buxton still out for Twins
Byron Buxton remains on ice for the Twins as they get set to face the reigning-champion Astros. Buxton has been laid up since Aug. 1 with a hamstring injury. He's dealt with injuries his entire career, and the Twins this season made Buxton – an elite defensive center fielder – an exclusive DH partly in an effort to keep him healthier and partly because of ongoing knee issues. The approach worked until it didn't. Prior to his current injury, Buxton had performed well below his usual level at the plate. It's fair to wonder how effective he'll be whenever he returns, especially given the long layoff.
Braves put Wright on IL
The Braves before their clash with the NL East-rival Phillies placed right-hander Kyle Wright on the 60-day injured list with a strained throwing shoulder. The move of course means that Wright is not on the NLDS roster and also brings an end to his disappointing 2023 season. Wright this season was limited because of those same shoulder issues and pitched to a 6.97 ERA in just 31 innings. Just last season, Wright won 21 games for the Braves and finished 10th in the NL Cy Young balloting. Manager Brian Snitker announced later Saturday that Wright .
Astros missing Graveman
Veteran right-handed reliever Kendall Graveman was left off the Astros' ALDS roster for their series against the Twins. He's dealing with shoulder discomfort. A trade-deadline acquisition from the White Sox, Gravemen put up an ERA of 2.42 for Houston in 22 1/3 innings after the swap. The Astros will go with 12 rostered pitchers against Minnesota.