Postseason impact of Beckett's injury

Updated: September 6, 2011, 10:39 AM ET
By Buster Olney

So much about the postseason is about the timing of injuries and hot streaks. Willie Randolph got hurt in 1978 and this is why Brian Doyle is a postseason hero. The 1990 Oakland Athletics were thought to be one of the deepest teams of all time, and yet coaches on that team believe that down the stretch, many players played through nagging injuries that eventually took a toll, and the Reds swept Oakland. The St. Louis Cardinals limped into the postseason with 83 victories in 2006, just in time for Adam Wainwright to blossom.

Outside of the tightening AL West, there are almost no real races, but so much of what will happen in the eight-team tournament next month will be determined by what happens this month. If there's a significant injury now, there will be no time left to heal, and if some pitcher gets hot -- like Doug Fister -- the ramifications could be pivotal in October.

The timing makes for front-burner issues.

No. 1: Is Josh Beckett's injury serious? He left Monday's start with what the team is referring to as a sprained ankle. The implications are obvious: With a healthy Beckett and Jon Lester, the Red Sox could have the best No. 1-2 combination in the AL playoffs. If Beckett is compromised, that's a real problem for Boston, which might have even more acute rotation questions than the Yankees.

Meanwhile: Bobby Jenks will probably miss the rest of the season.