Minnesota Twins starting pitcher Tyler Mahle throws to a Kansas City Royals batter during the first inning of a baseball game Thursday, April 27, 2023, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn)
Much of the reason the Twins are in first place in the American League Central in the season’s early going is the success of their starting staff, which has been among the best in baseball. But over the course of two days, the Twins have seen two of those starters leave games early with injury.
The team announced before Thursday’s game against the Royals that Kenta Maeda will likely be placed on the injured list with a strain in his arm. Then Tyler Mahle, who cruised through the early innings in the Twins’ 7-1 win over Kansas City at Target Field, was forced out of his start early with arm soreness.
Mahle is dealing with right posterior elbow soreness, the Twins announced. He threw four innings before making way for Brock Stewart.
Mahle experienced a dramatic velocity dip throughout the course of his start. His four-seam fastball velocity ranged from 94.5 miles per hour to 88.1 mph. His average velocity was down on every pitch and about two mph on the heater. It’s a new development for the veteran starter, who last season dealt with shoulder issues upon a midseason trade from the Cincinnati Reds.
Mahle’s exit came after four good innings, during which he did not allow a hit until the fourth. Vinnie Pasquantino’s home run to lead off the fourth was the only blemish during his outing. Mahle fanned six, allowed two hits and didn’t walk a batter.
Injury aside, there was plenty else for the Twins to like, ranging from a two-hit day from Max Kepler, who drove in one of the Twins’ early runs, to a Byron Buxton three-run blast to right-center off Zack Greinke, which broke open the game, to a Carlos Correa home run deposited into the Royals’ bullpen, a good sign for the slow-starting shortstop.