Triston McKenzie was scratched from his start agains the Arizona Diamondbacks Friday night with elbow soreness, which is yet another injury setback for the talented Cleveland Guardians starter.
McKenzie had already missed the first two months of the season with a right shoulder strain, and has had an uneven two starts in 2023. He blanked the Twins over five innings - striking out ten - in his first start of the year on June 4, but was knocked around by the Astros June 10, giving up five runs and walking three.
With McKenzie about to miss an unspecified amount of time, it presents an interesting scenario for the Guardians, who many believe are primed to move Shane Bieber at the trade deadline - mostly out of necessity at this point.
Even if McKenzie is out for the long haul again, does that change Cleveland's plans? Honestly, probably not, especially not with their top pitching prospect - Gavin Williams - still waiting in the wings at Triple-A Columbus.
Williams sports a 2.93 ERA over nine starts with the Clippers and is no doubt ready for the majors. Amazingly enough, the Guardians would still be in the mix for the AL Central this year with a rotation that featured the likes of Logan Allen, Tanner Bibee, Gavin Williams, Aaron Civale, and whoever the team deemed worthy of the fifth spot.
But this is no doubt a frustrating setback for McKenzie, who looked like he was ascending to true ace status last season, thanks to a 2.96 ERA and 190 strikeouts that culminated in a solid postseason run.
Where the Cleveland Guardians go from here will be interesting to say the least, but even McKenzie's latest injury setback probably shouldn't deter them from trying to improve their moribund offense at the trade deadline.