Cleveland Guardians: Making sense of Triston McKenzie's first two starts

Triston McKenzie's first two starts of the year have been a mixed bag for the Cleveland Guardians. What can the team expect of him moving forward?
Chicago White Sox v Cleveland Guardians
Chicago White Sox v Cleveland Guardians / Mike Lawrie/GettyImages
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Triston McKenzie had a relatively encouraging second start of the season, throwing 5 2/3 scoreless innings agains the hapless Chicago White Sox, striking out two and walking four.

By no means did McKenzie look like his 2022 self, but it did help that his four-seamer was just a touch faster compared to his first start against the Mariners. However, there remains a concern that he only achieved a 19% CSW% on his fastball; the curveball and slider graded out a little better in terms of CSW%, both at 29%.

McKenzie is still searching for his command a bit as well, as he threw only seven sliders against the White Sox. Against the Mariners, it was his most-used pitch, thrown 36 times. With all that being said, McKenzie's second start of the season was still a pretty mixed bag.

So what to make here of McKenzie's first two starts? Honestly, his health might just be the biggest takeaway. With Shane Bieber now out for the season, it's going to be more important than ever for McKenzie to stay healthy and provide the Guardians with as many innings as he can. One would hope McKenzie could ramp up the velocity a bit and hone in on his command, but just being able to eat up innings is going to be vital as Gavin Williams gets back in the fold and some internal pitching options work their way up this summer.

McKenzie's next start is slated to come against the Yankees this weekend, which will be a huge test for the 26-year-old.

Our Predictions for the 2024 Cleveland Guardians Pitching Staff

Looking for more of our thoughts on the Cleveland Guardians' pitching staff this season? Check out our episode of the California Penal League podcast, in which we provide our over/under predictions for the pitchers (you can also get our over/under thoughts on the hitters here too). Fair warning: We recorded this episode before Bieber went down for the year.