Twins right-hander Tyler Mahle underwent an MRI today to determine the nature of an elbow impingement, and the results aren’t promising. Manager Rocco Baldelli told reporters (including Dan Hayes of The Athletic) that Mahle will be shut down for the next four weeks due to both a posterior impingement and a flexor pronator strain.
Assuming Mahle emerges from that shutdown period in good condition, it will still likely take a couple of weeks for him to rehab and rebuild his strength back up to regular levels, so the Twins might be without one of their rotation stalwarts until late June. Kenta Maeda also went to the 15-day IL just two days ago, but while Maeda’s strained right triceps issue seems slightly less serious, it seems like Maeda could also miss a big portion of May.
The Twins have an off-day on Monday, so Mahle’s own IL placement will likely be held off until prior to the team’s game against the White Sox on Tuesday. Bailey Ober was already called up from Triple-A to act as Maeda’s replacement in the rotation, so Minnesota will again have to dip into its starter depth. The silver lining might be that the Twins are better equipped than most teams to withstand rotation injuries, since Louie Varland is also on hand at Triple-A and seems the likeliest candidate to be called up in Mahle’s place. Simeon Woods Richardson and Brent Headrick might also be options, as both are on Minnesota’s 40-man roster.
The injury is a tough setback for Mahle, who looked good in posting a 3.16 ERA over his first five starts and 25 2/3 innings of the season. The righty’s 27.5% strikeout rate and 4.9% walk rate were both above league average, and the latter figure is of particular note given how control has often been an issue for Mahle throughout his six previous MLB seasons. A .266 BABIP and 80% strand rate have contributed to Mahle’s good numbers, but his 3.50 SIERA isn’t too far north of his actual 3.16 ERA.
In the bigger picture, Mahle is a free agent after the season, so any kind of lengthy injury layoff could certainly hamper his chances of maximizing his value on his next contract. It doesn’t help that Mahle also missed a big chunk of the 2022 season due to shoulder problems, as he pitched only 28 1/3 innings after July 2 due to three separate IL trips. Only time will tell if Mahle will be able to be able to return from this current injury in relatively short order and in good form, but an extended run of good health and quality pitching after his return could line Mahle up for a hefty multi-year deal this winter.