Triston McKenzie, SP, Cleveland Indians
The fifth spot of the rotation is where Cleveland could see a bit of competition, but at this point it seems like the edge should go to Triston McKenzie. The good news is that this competition would be between two capable starters, not between two struggling prospects just trying to fill a spot like we’ve seen this season.
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The edge for McKenzie really comes down to his potential, which was on full display in his last start. A first round pick by Cleveland in the 2015 MLB Draft, McKenzie was once one of the top prospects in the organization and is still just barely 24-years old after celebrating a birthday earlier this month.
Something about getting older must have helped McKenzie because since his birthday, each start has been progressively better. On Aug. 5 he gave up just three runs over seven innings against a tough Toronto offense. Then on Aug. 10 he improved to two runs over six innings against another difficult team in Oakland. However, his last start was by far the best of his career.
Going a full eight innings, McKenzie carried a perfect game into the eighth inning before being broken up by a Harold Castro single. When he left the inning, McKenzie had posted 10 strikeouts over eight innings while giving up just that one hit and no walks.
That start against Detroit is the potential that McKenzie has and it wasn’t necessarily a fluke. He’s had similar outings earlier this season they just weren’t perfect game bids. If he can find consistency in his starts, which should come with time, he should easily slot in as part of this rotation.