After Byron Buxton was struck with a fastball in the ribs on Thursday night against the Cleveland Guardians, the Minnesota Twins were left with two options: put Buxton on the injured list right away or wait and see how he responds. The Twins opted to go with the latter and waited to see how his ribs would respond. In fact, the Twins waited the entire weekend before making a decision, leaving them with a short bench the entire weekend series against Cleveland and putting them in a spot on Friday night where they only had one bench player.
In Major League Baseball when a player is injured, a team has a three day window to retroactively place someone on the injured list and still get “credit” for those days serving towards the 10 days that a player must wait before returning from injury. As such, it can be common for teams to wait and see if a player can return within three days before making the decision of whether or not to add them to the injured list.
While this is likely what the Twins were trying to do by holding off on the injured list decision for Buxton, it was unequivocally the wrong decision and one that may have ultimately cost the Twins this past weekend.
The first reason why the Twins misplayed this injury situation over the weekend was that Carlos Correa was also injured for the Twins with his flared up foot. As such, a “wait and see” decision with both Correa and Buxton meant that the Twins would be operating with two men down on their bench all weekend. The Twins could have waited on one of the two players and sent the other to the IL, but by waiting on both, they actively chose to play the weekend series against their division rival with one hand tied behind their back.
Secondly, Byron Buxton had been in a massive slump leading into the rib injury. Over his past 10 games played, Buxton is hitting .147 with one extra base hit and 12 strikeouts compared to just three walks. The Minnesota Twins were choosing to lessen their depth over the weekend series so that they could potentially cut the number of games missed for a player who hasn’t been hitting the ball well at all lately. A big-time risk for a low payoff.
Additionally, the ribs are not the only issue that had been ailing Buxton. Over the course of the season, Buxton has been having issues with his knee pain. In fact, it’s been because of his knee pain that the Twins have seemingly been limiting Buxton to a designated hitter role this season. With Buxton being experiencing so much pain in his ribs that he wasn’t even able to lie down, in addition to the knee pain that he had been experiencing all year, an injured list decision seemed like a no-brainer the whole time.
The decision was made even worse by the fact that the Minnesota Twins had the reigning AAA hitter of the week available to be called up in Matt Wallner. Wallner currently has a 1.100 OPS with the Saint Paul Saints this season and has a .414 batting average since being demoted last week with two of the three starting pitchers coming up set to be right handers.
The Minnesota Twins scored a total of four runs after they decided to leave Buxton and Correa up with the team and play with a short bench. It’s certainly fair to wonder if the weekend series would have wound up any different had the Twins been operating with a full roster.
In summary, the Twins decided to play short handed all weekend against a division rival so that they could potentially save a few days off of an injured list stint for a struggling Byron Buxton with ailing knees rather than just calling up Matt Wallner who has been hitting the snot out of the ball. A troubling decision to say the least.
This isn’t an isolated incident with the Twins this season either. Earlier this season the Minnesota Twins did something similar with Joey Gallo when he had an injured hamstring. With the amount of talent that the Minnesota Twins have in the Minor Leagues the Twins should not hesitate to move players to the injured list and give their struggling offense every bit of a chance to succeed. The Twins are struggling enough at the plate with a full roster that playing with a limited roster just leaves this team with no chance on offense.
Do you agree that the Twins need to be more decisive with injured list decisions? Leave a comment below and start the conversation!