Zach Plesac, SP, Cleveland Guardians
Entering the season, Zach Plesac was in the conversation for Cleveland’s No. 2 starter. While he had a difficult 2021 that saw injuries paired with spouts of struggles on the mound, Plesac is still one of the better young pitchers in the game and should be locked into his role in the Cleveland Guardians rotation heading into 2022.
Plesac just never fully settled down during this past season. He concluded the season with an ERA of 4.67 and saw his strikeouts per nine dip down to 6.3. The injury surely didn’t help, but the struggles were there before that happened.
With an offseason to get right, the hope is that Plesac comes back ready to go at the start of the 2022 season. The potential is there, we’ve watched it, but consistency is another thing. Now with more prospects proving their worth, and Eli Morgan probably the odd man out, the leash will be shorter for Plesac.
I’m by no means saying Plesac will bust in 2022, he’s still a strong pitcher. However, if there’s one player set to start the 2022 season as a member of the rotation that could fall out for one reason or another, Plesac would be my best guess.
Triston McKenzie, SP, Cleveland Guardians
Like Quantrill, it took Triston McKenzie a bit of time to find his groove, but once he did he was locked into the rotation. He finished the year out on a bit of a rough stretch, but there were enough flashes throughout the year that he should be locked into the fifth spot of the rotation.
From August 10 until September 14, McKenzie made six appearances and gave up two or fewer runs in each of them. That stretch also included his one-hitter over eight innings against the Tigers. The bad news is that he concluded the season by giving up 14 runs over 10.2 innings that spanned three starts.
The season was clearly hot and cold for McKenzie, but at just 24-years old there’s plenty of time for him to work out the problems. The hope is that happens this offseason and he enters the 2022 season ready to go for a full season as the team’s fifth starter.