In all fairness, the Minnesota Twins had one job this weekend. As they played a meaningless series with the Kansas City Royals (unless you count the team's 100th victory on Friday night as something they should push for), the Twins needed to get out of Kansas City unscathed as they begin their American League Divisional Series with the New York Yankees on Friday night.
To be fair, the Twins did a good job of managing that by putting Luis Arraez at third base on Saturday to give Miguel Sano a break. As things began to unravel for Tyler Duffey in the seventh inning of their 4-3 victory over the Royals, a routine pop-up turned into a disaster as Arraez collided with Willians Astudillo on the pitcher's mound and had to be carted off.
While the injury looked more serious than a sprained ankle that the team would later announce it to be, it leaves a hole in the Twins' lineup. Arraez didn't have the power that some of the other members of the Twins have, but he may be one of their best hitters, hitting .334 with four home runs and 28 RBI in 92 games this season.
Although Arraez could be ready for the Twins' at some point during the series with the Yankees, his availability has to be considered questionable. That means that someone on the Twins will have to step up in his absence.
The most obvious answer would be his veteran counterpart Jonathan Schoop. The Twins have received more than they were expecting when they signed Schoop to a one-year "prove it" deal last winter as he's been a steady source of power with 22 home runs. His clutch hitting, however, leaves a lot to be desired.
In 2019, Schoop has hit just .222 with one home run and four RBI during "late and close" situations, which Baseball-Reference describes as plate appearances in the seventh inning or later with the batting team tied, ahead by one, or the tying run on deck. These numbers extend to having men on base as Schoop has gone 0-for-8 with three strikeouts with the bases loaded.
Odds are good that Schoop will deal with one or both of these situations during a game and while he's been a great addition to the lineup, something closer to the .273, 10 HR, 27 RBI (and .948 OPS) he's posted when a game's margin is four runs or greater might help take the sting away from losing Arraez.
Another player that could help out is Ehire Adrianza. The utility infielder has done well throughout the 2019 season, hitting .272 with five home runs and 22 RBI and can play basically anywhere on the diamond. The issue here is that Adrianza may be just as banged up as Arraez is at the moment as he battles a right oblique strain.
While the focus on infielders is natural considering that's Arraez's primary position, this may also put a strain on the outfield, where Arraez was used to get his bat into the lineup.
The Twins are hopeful that they can get Max Kepler functional for the postseason, but it's not a guarantee he can make it through the five-game series without a setback. Eddie Rosario has been a key cog in the Twins lineup and Jake Cave has stepped up, hitting .297 with five home runs and 15 RBI since being recalled on Aug. 3.
But if Kepler goes down, the Twins may have to dig deeper into their bench. LaMonte Wade Jr. has played better as of late and could be their first option, but his limited experience in a big postseason series could be an issue. Even Ian Miller, who was basically acquired as a base-running hitman, might have to make some starts in the outfield, which makes this situation a complete mess.
Making things even more complicated are the roster rules for the postseason. The Twins can start off with Arraez on the postseason roster, but if he suffers a setback and has to be removed, he is not eligible to play in the following series.
All of this creates one giant headache, but the Twins were trying to do the right thing by giving Sano, who is a more important piece to the Twins' success, a day off. In a perfect world, everything turns out fine and maybe Arraez limps to the plate in a key moment and channels his inner Kirk Gibson, but his injury leaves the Twins in a crucial situation at the worst possible time.