The Minnesota Twins made their biggest move of the off-season when they signed free agent starting pitcher Ricky Nolasco to a four-year, $49 million deal. He has never looked right this season, struggling to consistently pitch well.
This week the Twins might have learned why, as Nolasco finally admitted to the team that his pitching elbow has been sore all season, dating back to spring training. The Twins pulled him from the rotation immediately and sent him in for an MRI. According to Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press:
The Twins’ Opening Day starter was due to undergo a magnetic resonance imaging exam on Tuesday, when he will be examined by Twins medical director Dr. John Steubs.
According to Twins assistant general manager Rob Antony, Nolasco had not sought treatment from the club’s training staff all year. Nolasco mentioned the elbow issue during a Monday meeting with Twins manager Ron Gardenhire and pitching coach Rick Anderson.
Nolasco has been nothing short of abysmal this season: through 18 starts he has a 5.90 ERA, 1.62 WHIP, and his K/9 were all the way down to 6.3. The Twins will hope for two things with this news: that it explains his struggles and that it is not an injury that will require Tommy John surgery.
In an odd way this might lend the Twins some hope that Nolasco will start to look like himself at some point during the life of his contract, making his multi-year deal pay off. They will just have to also hope that this doesn’t mean he is out for an extended period of time.