Twins right-hander Kenta Maeda left today’s start due to right forearm tightness. Maeda allowed one run in his first four innings against the Yankees but then ran into trouble in the fifth, retiring only one batter and then allowing the next four New York hitters to reach base. Maeda had thrown nine consecutive balls before finally leaving the game.
Minnesota manager Rocco Baldelli told Phil Miller of The Minneapolis Star Tribune (Twitter links) and other reporters that Maeda will undergo an MRI to determine the extent of the injury. It seems like a trip to the injured list will be in order, as Baldelli said “I don’t see very many scenarios right now where it’s not going to take some time to get Kenta back where he needs to be.”
Given the date, it certainly seems like Maeda’s season could be in jeopardy, to say nothing of a longer-term absence should his forearm injury prove to be serious. Maeda has made four visits to the IL during his six Major League seasons, though none of those stints were particularly long, and none involved an arm injury. Though Maeda’s contract (initially signed prior to the 2016 season) was rather notably incentive-heavy due to the Dodgers’ concerns about his physical, the righty has been mostly durable as he has pitched into his age-33 season.
Over 106 1/3 innings in 2021, Maeda has a 4.66 ERA, easily his highest as a Major Leaguer. That ERA is partially due to bad luck, as Maeda’s Statcast numbers are solid and he has above-average strikeout and walk rates. “Above average,” however, still represents a marked step backwards from Maeda’s elite 2020 performance, as the Twins righty finished second in AL Cy Young Award voting.
While the Twins are already looking ahead to 2022, losing Maeda for at least a while will only further deplete the team’s pitching depth. Minnesota has been deploying three rookies (Bailey Ober, Griffin Jax, and Charlie Barnes) in the rotation due to injuries and Jose Berrios leaving town at the trade deadline, with the newly-acquired John Gant also getting starts.