The AL Wild Card series between the Toronto Blue Jays and Minnesota Twins gets underway on Tuesday afternoon. First pitch for Game 1 from Minnesota’s Target Field is set for 4:38 p.m. ET. Before these teams take the field, though, let’s go over which notable players may not be able to do so. There are a couple of big names on the injury report, especially for the AL Central champion Twins.
Blue Jays lineup and injury news
C Danny Jansen
Jansen has been out since the beginning of September after taking a foul tip off his right middle finger, resulting in a fracture. The 28-year-old has shown real pop at the plate when healthy this season, slashing .228/.312/.474 (115 OPS+) with 17 homers in just 86 games, but it sounds like Toronto won’t have his bat in the lineup — at least not for this series. The Sportsnet broadcast on Sunday said that the team expects Jansen to be unavailable until the ALCS at the earliest, meaning the Jays will have to make a run if to get their starting catcher back. Alejandro Kirk (who posted a .692 OPS amid a disappointing year) figures to draw the lion’s share of the starts in his absence.
Twins lineup and injury news
3B Royce Lewis
Lewis has been not just one of the Twins’ best players but one of the best players in all of baseball this year — when he’s actually on the field. The former top prospect, whose career was derailed by consecutive season-ending knee surgeries, has slashed a monstrous .309/.372/.548 with 15 homers and 52 RBI in just 58 games. He’s been out since Sept. 19, when he suffered a Grade 1 hamstring strain against Cincinnati. Lewis seems to be progressing well, going 1-for-4 with a homer in a simulated game at Target Field last week, and it seems likely that he’ll at least make the playoff roster. He’s not yet progressed to running, though, so whether he’ll be able to play third or will be relegated to DH duties remains to be seen.
SS Carlos Correa
Correa confirmed on Monday that he’ll be ready to go for Game 1, but what version of the star shortstop Minnesota gets is an open question. October Correa is the stuff of legend; plantar fasciitis is no joke, though, and we’ll see if Correa can be successful as he plays through pain this postseason. He’s hit just .230/.312/.399 after returning to the Twins this past offseason, battling through several nagging injuries.
OF/DH Byron Buxton
The big question, beyond the status of Lewis, is Buxton — will he be able to play, and will he be able to play center field? The star-crossed superstar has been on the IL for two months with a confounding knee injury, only playing in two rehab games (plus the aforementioned simulated game) before the end of the regular season. Buxton told reporters last week that he met with manager Rocco Baldelli in order to argue for his place on the postseason roster, but that remains to be seen; Lewis is likely to occupy the DH spot, which means Buxton would need to be healthy enough to play center or risk Minnesota wasting a roster spot on what is essentially a pinch-hitter. Given how little Buxton has played this summer, and how much his knee has bothered him all year, it seems doubtful.