APRIL 27: The MRI results aligned with expectations. Baldelli told reporters that imaging revealed a muscle strain but no structural damage (via Aaron Gleeman of the Athletic). Maeda is likely to go on the 15-day IL but seems to have avoided a serious issue.
APRIL 26: Twins starter Kenta Maeda is going for an MRI after feeling elbow soreness during this afternoon’s start against the Yankees, manager Rocco Baldelli told the team’s beat (video relayed by Alec Ausmus of KSTP TV). Baldelli indicated the right-hander would “need some time off” but downplayed any major concern.
According to Baldelli, the discomfort appears to be muscular as opposed to indicative of a structural concern. He suggested the team doesn’t believe the issue related to the Tommy John surgery that sidelined Maeda for the entire 2022 campaign. Nevertheless, the suggestion of Maeda taking some time to rest points to a likely trip to the 15-day injured list.
The 35-year-old hurler has had a rough few weeks to open the year. Maeda has been tagged for 16 runs in as many innings. Much of that damage came in today’s loss at the hands of the Yankees, who teed off for ten runs in the first three frames. Given that the veteran hurler was bothered by elbow discomfort for at least part of today’s start, it’s tough to know how much stock to put into his early-season production.
Maeda has spent parts of four seasons with the Twins. He was the AL Cy Young runner-up during the shortened 2020 campaign, the result of a sterling 2.70 ERA across 66 2/3 frames. He’d compiled a 4.66 ERA, albeit with better peripherals, over 21 starts the following year before going under the knife in September 2021.
The rotation had been a problem in the Twin Cities for the past couple seasons. They’d been off to a much better start in 2023 to help the club to a 14-11 first few weeks. Minnesota starters entered play Wednesday with the game’s best ERA (2.62) and most innings pitched (137 1/3), though Maeda’s tough outing today didn’t do them any favors.
Each of Pablo López, Sonny Gray and Joe Ryan is off to a fantastic start to the season. Tyler Mahle hasn’t quite been at that level but he’s had a strong first month in his own right. If Maeda hits the IL, Bailey Ober would seem the top candidate to step into the rotation. A member of the starting five for the past couple seasons, the towering right-hander has spent the bulk of this year with Triple-A St. Paul. Ober came up for a spot start against the Nationals on Sunday; he was promptly optioned back out, though he could be recalled to replace a player going on the IL without spending the otherwise required 15 days in the minor leagues.