As we head into the final weekend of the regular season, both the Dodgers and Mets are vying for home field advantage in the National League Division Series. But mostly, both teams are hoping for good health by next Friday's Game 1.
We know about the Dodgers' injuries, from Adrian Gonzalez and his back, to the hamstrings of Howie Kendrick and Kike Hernandez, to the left knee and left forearm of Justin Turner, to the left shoulder of Yasmani Grandal. And this is all before considering the possibility of Yasiel Puig recovering from his hamstring injury in time to crash the NLDS party.
But the Mets are dealing with problems of their own, specifically with Steven Matz, Yoenis Cespedes and Juan Uribe.
Matz, who beat the Dodgers with six scoreless innings at Dodger Stadium on July 5, is 4-0 with a 2.27 ERA in his six major league starts, but the 24-year-old rookie is dealing with back stiffness that caused him to get scratched from starts twice in the last week.
"He's better," New York manager Terry Collins told reporters on Thursday, per Marc Carig of New York Newsday. "The medication he got Thursday has made a big difference."
The plan was for Matz to pitch once this weekend against the Nationals, though not starting. But as of Friday, it appears that won't be the case.
Steven Matz at doctor now and back "not better." Juan Uribe "not much better." Wilmer Flores has flare-up or strep throat, but back Ok.— Adam Rubin (@AdamRubinESPN) October 2, 2015
So Steven Matz doubtful for weekend. May pitch next week in instructional league. Best bet is Bartolo Colon in Game 4.— Adam Rubin (@AdamRubinESPN) October 2, 2015
"I probably downplayed it too much at the outset." -- Sandy Alderson on Steven Matz's lingering back issue.— Adam Rubin (@AdamRubinESPN) October 2, 2015
Matz would have been the Mets' only left-handed starter in the series, after Jacob de Grom, Matt Harvey and Noah Syndergaard. That might affect how the Dodgers' structure their NLDS roster, though the Mets will likely have at least two southpaws in the bullpen from the group of Jon Niese, Sean Gilmartin and Eric O`Flaherty.
Uribe exited a game on Sept. 20 with a bruised chest, and has pinch hit twice since, the last on Sept. 25. Per Carig:
He aggravated the injury while taking a swing last Friday and hasn't played since, with discomfort and soreness spreading to his shoulder.
"He could be a key factor," Collins said of Uribe, a righthanded hitter whose availability is important against a lefty-heavy Dodgers staff.
Cespedes is the healthiest of the trio, which is good for the Mets since he is hitting .287/.336/.610 with 17 home runs in 54 games since joining New York. He was hit by a pitch on the left hand on Tuesday and forced to leave the game.
The Mets got good news when X-rays were negative, and that he only suffered bruises on two fingers with nothing broken. Cespedes was in the Mets' starting lineup for Friday night, but that game was rained out.
The Mets and Nationals will play a split doubleheader on Saturday, with games at 10:10 a.m. and 4:10 p.m. PT at Citi Field. The Dodgers need four of six outcomes to go their way to clinch home field advantage, though it could be interesting if rain persists how weather plays a factor, if any, in those outcomes.