The Minnesota Twins will be without third baseman Josh Donaldson for their best-of-three wild card series against the Houston Astros. Donaldson, who has been dealing with a calf issue and has not played since Sept. 25, was left off the club's 28-player roster on Tuesday morning.
Donaldson, 34, signed a four-year deal worth $92 million over the winter. In 28 games this season, he batted .222/.373/.469 (131 OPS+) with six home runs and earned 0.4 Wins Above Replacement, according to Baseball-Reference's calculations.
The Twins are expected to use a combination of Marwin Gonzalez and Ehire Adrianza at the hot corner in place of Donaldson. Neither Gonzalez (68 OPS+) nor Adrianza (56 OPS+) can match Donaldson's offensive potency.
That might help to explain why the Twins placed outfielder slash first baseman Alex Kirilloff on their postseason roster. Kirilloff, the club's top prospect according to our offseason rankings, would be making his big-league debut. He figures to see action in a pinch-hitting capacity. Here's what we wrote about Kirilloff over the winter:
Kirilloff has an unorthodox swing, as he's prone to stepping in the bucket -- or striding away from the plate. This is often frowned upon, since it theoretically makes it tougher to hit outside pitches, but some batters -- e.g. Khris Davis -- have made it work. Kirilloff might be the next thanks to his feel for hitting and the natural loft in his swing.
Provided Kirilloff keeps hitting, the development worth watching here is where the Twins stick him defensively. They've had him crosstrain between first base and the corner outfield, and it's possible that he could ping pong back and forth as needed, giving him a little additional value.
The Twins will have outfielder Byron Buxton in their lineup. Buxton had been dealing with mild concussion-like symptoms, and his status was up in the air entering Tuesday.