Twins starting pitcher Tyler Mahle headed for season-ending surgery
After shoulder injury ended his last season, Tommy John surgery will end the current one
The story of the Minnesota Twins season thus far has been the outstanding work they’ve received from their starting pitchers. But their depth at that position will be tested as the team announced Thursday that Tyler Mahle will undergo Tommy John surgery, ending his season essentially before it began.
Mahle, 28, made just five starts this season, posting a 1-2 record with a 3.16 earned-run average. He was removed from his last start April 27 after four innings due to discomfort in his right elbow.
The Twins acquired Mahle in a trade with the Reds last August, shipping three prospects to Cincinnati including young sluggers Spencer Steer and Christian Encarnacion-Strand. The Twins were aware of Mahle’s history of arm problems, and he made just four starts after the trade in 2022 before he was shut down with a strained shoulder.
However, the team doesn’t think the shoulder and elbow injuries are related.
“These things happen over time. It’s chronic use,” Twins president of baseball operations Derek Falvey said. “At the time of the trade last year, obviously he had some shoulder history. We checked that out and continued to get him in a good place around that, having a good offseason around his shoulder care. And that never presented as an issue (this spring). Felt really good about where he was at with that. It’s unfortunate for him that something else crops up.”
Mahle said he potentially could have continued pitching this year, as the ulnar collateral ligament isn’t completely torn. But a consult with orthopedic surgeon Keith Meister convinced him that surgery was the better option.
“It was an easy decision just because it was so obvious, after the second opinion, what I should do for my longevity and my future health,” Mahle said. He added that Meister told him that without surgery, “a couple of starts after you come back, you’re going to be right back in the same position you are right now, most likely.”
Because Mahle’s contract expires at the end of this season, he will rehab at his southern California home after Meister performs the surgery, which could happen as soon as next week. He’s likely headed for a one-year, make-good contract to prove himself to his next team. The Twins could be that team, although they’ve already signed a extension with Chris Paddack, another starting pitcher acquired in a trade last year who ended up needing Tommy John surgery.
The Twins already have recalled Bailey Ober and Louie Varland from Triple-A St. Paul to fill vacancies left by injuries to Mahle and fellow starting pitcher Kenta Maeda. But manager Rocco Baldelli isn’t concerned that the team’s pitching depth has been spread too thin — at least, not yet.
“I think we’re in a fine spot,” Baldelli said. “Honestly, in this game, you play every day, we’re always a day away from something big happening or changing, and we just always have to be able to roll with the punches and find a way to get through it.”
Lewis on the way
Falvey confirmed that Royce Lewis, who is recovering from a torn ACL suffered last May, is progressing as expected. The No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 draft will begin a rehab stint at Double-A Wichita tonight, and it shouldn’t be long before Lewis’ final tune-up takes place in St. Paul.
“We have got nothing but really positive reports up to this point,” Falvey said. “I know it’s a second ACL surgery, so maybe we’re being a little bit more cautious in our approach to some of that for obvious reasons, but ultimately, he has given us no indication that we need to be all that cautious. We’re just going to do it for his benefit, ultimately.”
This story was written by one of our partner news agencies. Forum Communications Company uses content from agencies such as Reuters, Kaiser Health News, Tribune News Service and others to provide a wider range of news to our readers. Learn more about the news services FCC uses here.