From the “more bad news” files, we discovered after today’s game that multiple members of the Twins’ active roster were being evaluated for injuries.
Rocco says Kenta Maeda was dealing with minor groin tightness during the game and is getting treated.— Do-Hyoung Park (@dohyoungpark) May 16, 2021
Max Kepler tweaked his hamstring running the bases. He's being evaluated.
Willians Astudillo's hand is being treated. There was initially swelling and bruising.
Kenta Maeda suffering from a bit of tightness doesn’t sound like something too concerning at first blush, but he has been inexplicably bad this season, and melted down in the fifth inning today. Perhaps a bit of a lingering issue is behind the tightness and the lack of success. Hopefully this is nothing, but is certainly something to watch. If this becomes an issue that makes him miss a start or two, Randy Dobnak or Lewis Thorpe are most likely to fill in.
The more concerning issue here is Max Kepler — just the latest in a string of injured outfielders which include Alex Kirilloff, Byron Buxton, and Jake Cave. As the Twins test their fortunately deep pool of outfield talent, we can only hope that Kepler avoids a visit to the injured list. Still, as we’ve seen all-too-often, hamstrings can be nasty things to recover from. If Kepler does hit the IL, Keon Broxton would probably end up coming up to cover center field. More concerning though, is the idea of Kepler missing only a couple games, as the Twins don’t really have another centerfielder on the roster. None of Trevor Larnach, Kyle Garlick, Luis Arraez, or Rob Refsynder has ever played a MLB inning there. In fact, I believe Willians Astudillo is the second-most experience player in the position, having spent one inning out there during that extreme-heat game in Chicago a couple years ago. Nelson Cruz, who covered three innings in center for the Rangers over a decade-and-a-half ago, is the most experienced center fielder on the roster, and that is an utterly hilarious idea. The most likely short-term plan, in my opinion, is probably for Arraez to start in center for a game or two if needed.
And speaking of Willians Astudillo, he too may be hurt, as he took a pitch to the left hand in the second inning, and was replaced shortly after by Ben Rortvedt. (In a very un-Gardy sort of move, Rocco eventually pinch hit Mitch Garver for Rortvedt, leaving his bench catcher-less.) This was Astudillo’s first start behind the plate this season, and losing him would not be a huge blow to the depth there, but he has been a competent back-up in many positions, and very well might have overtaken Miguel Sano for the long side of a first base platoon. If he were to miss extended time, the team could call up literally anyone—a reliever and shorten the bench, or a position player. The recently-signed Daniel Descalso would be a good candidate as a bench player.
Overall, things have broken pretty badly for the Twins. These three players potentially being hurt is just the latest bad news to pile on. Hopefully all three return quickly and healthy. The Twins will need them for the series against the White Sox that starts tomorrow evening.