The Minnesota Twins have been lucky this year on the injury front, but that luck came to a screeching halt this week with many key players out.
The cliche is that a baseball season is a marathon, not a sprint. Well, it’s the last 200 meters and the Minnesota Twins look to be in big trouble.
In the last week or so, the Twins have sent some big names to the injury list. Byron Buxton is out for the season with a torn labrum. Sam Dyson has been fighting a sore right bicep and is shelved until at least the end of September. Marwin Gonzalez has a right abdominal strain and is out indefinitely. Michael Pineda managed to get himself a 60 day suspension for violating the league’s performance-enhancing drug policy. Needless to say, it’s been a rough week in Minnesota.
It’s not all bad news in Minnesota. Max Kepler sat out a couple of games with a sore shoulder and scapula but is expected back anytime. Miguel Sano should be back soon after dealing with a sore back and Jake Cave is coming back from a sore groin. Kyle Gibson made his start against the Nationals on Thursday after being sidelined by ulcerative colitis.
While this is good news, any of this injuries could be nagging. Days are getting shorter and the weather is getting cooler and cool weather is almost never kind to a body that’s already played almost 150 games.
The Twins’ biggest challenge for the balance of the season is going to be the starting rotation. Obviously the Twins are going to miss Pineda’s presence in the postseason. The normally sharp Jose Berrios has struggled as of late, which is clearly a concern. With Gibson battling health issues and struggling at times this season, the Twins could be in real trouble. While there’s no doubt that the Twins can hit, the challenge is going to be limiting the damage from opposing teams.
With no meaningful moves at the deadline, the Twins have been in a perilous position for most of the second half of the season. The team could ill afford to lose a starter and definitely couldn’t afford to lose a starter and see Berrios struggle.
The outfield has been a bit of a question mark in recent weeks as well. Buxton’s injury is obviously terrible news. With Cave, Gonzalez and Kepler out, Eddie Rosario and Ryan LaMarre have done their best to fill in with varying degrees of success.
The bottom line is this: this is not the Twins team that won 89 games and set an MLB home run record. The upcoming series against the Cleveland Indians is critical. It is entirely possible that the Twins’ lead in the AL Central could be all but decimated by Sunday night. The team that was once the best in baseball may be relegated to a Wild Card. Depth has been an issue all season and at the worst possible time, it’s making the Twins look like a very beatable team.