Cleveland Indians fans can smile this offseason knowing that a top pitching prospect is gearing up to join this already dominant rotation sometime soon.
Then he was traded to San Diego this past summer. So much for that.
McKenzie is only 21 years old and spent the 2018 season in Double-A Akron where he made 16 starts, finishing with 87 strikeouts in 90.2 innings of work. He posted an ERA of 2.68.
But we all know injuries happen and spot starts are needed. That could be where McKenzie gets some early action, the same way Bieber did this past year before sticking in a full-time role.
Given McKenzie is so young, there is no rush to bring him up in 2019. There also isn’t a logical spot for him to assume, unless he were to bump Bieber from the rotation. The only way that would work is if Bieber went to the bullpen, but that isn’t a likely scenario next season.
A lot of fans are just hoping to see McKenzie eventually suit up in an Indians uniform. Several top prospects have been traded away in the past few years and the team is still without a World Series title. Perhaps the front office will be more hesitant to trade away top talent moving forward.