Pablo Lopez's early exit vs. White Sox could potentially be cause for concern

One way or another, Pablo Lopez getting pulled after four innings against Chicago is troubling.
Chicago White Sox v Minnesota Twins
Chicago White Sox v Minnesota Twins / Matt Krohn/GettyImages

With one swing of the bat, Eloy Jiménez scored more runs for the Chicago White Sox than the team had collected over its last two games combined. Making matters worse is the home run came off Minnesota Twins ace Pablo Lopez, who increasingly caused more concern the longer he stayed on the mound.

He wasn't out there that long, either.

Lopez lasted just four innings while giving up three runs on four hits and two walks. It was a tough outing on its own, especially since Minnesota's best pitcher failed to shutdown the league's worst team, but it somehow got even worse.

When he left the game, Lopez's fastball has dipped to 91.9 MPH, which is the slowest four-seam fastball he's thrown since joining the Twins over a year ago. Not only that, but his velocity was trending down harder than it should have, which has fans concerned for very obvious reasons.

Pablo Lopez has Twins fans concerned after lasting only four innings against White Sox

Wishful thinking has Twins fans hoping that the frigid weather in Minneapolis on Tuesday is why Lopez looked so off his game. Temps were around 46 degrees with a Real Feel closer to 40 degrees and a Frost Advisory in effect once the sun set.

Those are important variable to factor in, but there's other potential reasons for such an uncharacteristic outing that is gnawing at the back of everyone's mind.

Pitchers have recently started dropping like flies with various arm injuries, and no one seems to be immune. Already the Twins have shut down two pitchers -- Anthony DeSclafani and Daniel Duarte -- due to season-ending arm injuries and the pain extends across the entire league.

Braves starter Spencer Strider was the biggest domino to fall, butt he rash of arm injuries has created a very real dialogue about how pitchers are being developed and managed. Lopez might have just had a bad night, but that sort of drop in velocity is extra alarming given the context of pitcher injuries this year.

No matter which way you slice it, Tuesday was one of the weakest showings Lopez has turned in since becoming a member of the Twins. There's cause for concern on all sides of his start, from a potential injury to keep an eye on beyond tonight, to the fact that Minnesota's best pitcher got his ears boxed by one of the most impossibly bad baseball teams we've ever seen.

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