Rangers right-hander Kohei Arihara will undergo surgery on his throwing shoulder, Texas GM Chris Young told reporters (including MLB.com’s Manny Randhawa and Sports Illustrated’s Chris Halicke). The surgery will fix an aneurysm that was found in Arihara’s shoulder earlier this week. It will be 12 weeks before Arihara can even resume throwing, so it is quite possible that Arihara’s 2021 season is finished.
Arihara was already on the injured list due to a contusion on his right middle finger, an issue that was revealed as being related to the aneurysm. Young suggested that the aneurysm impacted Arihara’s performance over three starts prior to the IL placement, as Arihara was hit hard to the tune of a 17.28 ERA over 8 1/3 innings.
Baseball is hardly the first matter of concern at this point, however, as Young described the issue as “a very serious condition if it’s not treated, and we’re very fortunate that this was caught early and we didn’t continue to push it with [Arihara].”
Arihara signed a two-year, $6.2MM contract with Texas in the offseason, a deal that cost the Rangers an additional $1.24MM in posting fees to Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters, Arihara’s NPB team. Arihara was a stalwart member of the Fighters’ rotation from 2015-20, posting a 3.74 ERA over 836 innings with a pitching repertoire that relied more on control and off-speed pitches rather than velocity. (Arihara’s fastball averaged only 91mph this season.)
The Rangers and their fans saw some of this during Arihara’s first four starts of 2021, presumably before his aneurysm problems developed. Arihara had a 2.21 ERA over his first 20 1/3 innings pitched in the big leagues, issuing 13 strikeouts against three walks. If this is indeed it for Arihara in 2021, he’ll finish his rookie campaign with a 6.59 ERA/5.57 SIERA in 28 2/3 innings.
Young didn’t comment on how Texas would address Arihara’ rotation spot, though Hyeon-Jong Yang would seem like the favorite to remain in the starting five. Drew Anderson, Brock Burke, or Wes Benjamin are some of the most likely options at Triple-A if the Rangers dipped into the farm system.