MINNEAPOLIS — When the Minnesota Twins dealt for Tyler Mahle at last year’s trade deadline, they imagined him as a rotation stalwart for their 2022 playoff push in addition to being an important piece of their rotation for this current season.
But instead, his early tenure with the Twins has been marred by injury and the latest, a posterior impingement and flexor pronator strain in his right elbow, will shut him down for the next month at least, the club announced on Sunday.
“He’s going to be down and resting for four weeks and then he’s going to be re-evaluated at that point,” manager Rocco Baldelli said.
In the early period after he was forced to exit his start early — Mahle experienced soreness in his fourth inning of work on Thursday night along with dramatic dips in his velocity — the starter said “no one’s really concerned about it” and that he thought he would be OK after sitting back and letting it calm down over the next few days.
But testing — the Twins sent Mahle for both magnetic resonance imaging and X-rays — quickly revealed otherwise.
Mahle had been effective in limited action this season before the elbow issue flared up, posting a 3.16 earned-run average across 25⅔ innings of work. But Thursday marked his third start in just nine with the Twins that ended with him leaving early due to injury, a troubling pattern.
Last year, it was a shoulder issue that landed Mahle on the injured list shortly after he was traded from Cincinnati. After an ill-fated return, he landed on the injured list again, not pitching after early September.
The Mahle news comes right after the Twins lost Kenta Maeda for a period of time — he was placed on the injured list with a triceps strain after leaving his Wednesday start early — leaving them without two of their five starters.
In Maeda’s place, the Twins recalled Bailey Ober to slide into his spot in the rotation. While the Twins have not yet said how they will fill Mahle’s rotation spot on Wednesday, the most obvious answer appears to be Louie Varland, who is lined up to start for the Triple-A Saints that day. Varland made one spot start earlier this season, allowing three runs in six innings pitched in a start against the Yankees in the Bronx.
The Twins have optioned Alex Kirilloff to Triple-A with his rehab assignment for his surgically repaired wrist now complete.
The team made the decision with Kirilloff’s rehab clock up and no clear path to every day time at the majors at the moment, despite seeing what they had wanted from the first baseman/outfielder during his rehab stint. Kirilloff is hitting .346 with a 1.200 OPS and three home runs in seven games with the Saints and he will remain in St. Paul, continuing to get at-bats and testing his wrist.
“Occasionally, you have to make decisions when you have a lot of good players and they’re all playing well and doing their jobs, sometimes you have to make calls,” Baldelli said over the weekend.
When the Twins head to Chicago, Kyle Farmer will head across town. The infielder is set to begin a rehab assignment on Tuesday with the Saints. Farmer has been out since April 12 when he was hit on the jaw by a pitch, requiring oral surgery and sutures to fix lacerations on his face. … The Twins completed a trade, sending Trevor Megill, who they had designated for assignment, to the Milwaukee Brewers for a player to be named later and cash considerations.
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