Cleveland Indians Goal #1: Set the starting rotation for 2022
As of right now, the Cleveland Indians will become the Cleveland Guardians with most of a starting rotation set, but not all of it. The team knows that they will have Shane Bieber, Aaron Civale and Zach Plesac leading the group. While that trio has been banged up this year, they are still the club’s best three starting pitchers.
After that, Cal Quantrill seems to have earned his spot as well. He’s made strides in the absence of the Big Three and looks like he can be a solid middle-to-back end of the rotation arm. However, beyond those four it’s an open competition for the final spot in the rotation.
Both Eli Morgan and Triston McKenzie have shown flashes and who knows who else could emerge between now and Opening Day 2022. However, if we’re going off the sample size of the 2021 season, it seems to be down between Morgan and McKenzie for the final spot in the rotation next year.
While Morgan had a tough start, he’s slowly been improving. All three starts in July saw him give up three runs and now both starts in August have been two runs. He’s also gone at least five innings in each of his last seven starts, including six and seven in his two August starts.
As for McKenzie, his results have been a bit more mixed. His highs are higher, but his lows are lower. In August, he’s nearly matched Morgan giving up just one more run in the same amount of innings.
Getting starters like Morgan and McKenzie as many opportunities as possible down the stretch will be key to both their development and the team’s evaluation. If one becomes a front-runner by the end of the season, that makes next year’s situation a bit easier to decide.