Major League Baseball has announced that it approved a roster substitution for the Minnesota Twins and it's a big one. All-Star designated hitter Byron Buxton has been activated with first baseman Alex Kirilloff being removed ahead of Wednesday's ALDS Game 4. Buxton, who has not played since Aug. 1 with a knee injury, is not in the starting lineup with the Twins facing elimination against the Astros in Game 4.
Kirilloff has been dealing with a shoulder injury that has worsened to the point that he can't hit anymore, Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said (via Dan Hayes). Kirilloff is 0 for 9 with four strikeouts in the postseason so far.
By rule, if a player falls injured during a series, the ballclub must request a change to MLB and the league must approve the change. As a result, the removed player is ineligible to be on the roster in the following round, so Kirilloff cannot be on the ALCS roster, should the Twins make it. Per MLB, "Dr. Gary Green, MLB's Medical Director, confirmed the injury after communicating with the evaluating physician" on Kirilloff.
Buxton, 29, played in just 85 games this season, as he was limited by injury again. The knee injury kept him out since Aug. 1, but he's apparently ready to get back on the field. He only served as DH this season with Michael Taylor, a quality defender, playing center field as the Twins hoped they'd be able to better avoid a Buxton injury. When in the lineup, Buxton hit .207/.294/.438 (98 OPS+) with 17 doubles, 17 homers, 42 RBI, 49 runs and nine steals in nine tries.
Buxton strikes out a lot and can hit for a low average, but his upside is playing like an MVP in stretches. In 2021 and 2022 combined, he appeared in 153 games and hit 47 home runs, for example.
It'll be very interesting to see how he's deployed and if he can have an impact on the series. The Twins face elimination when Game 4 starts at 7:07 p.m. ET Wednesday, as the Astros lead the best-of-five ALDS 2-1.