Well, this isn't the news anyone wanted as the Cleveland Guardians make their way to Opening Day.
But here it is: Triston McKenzie felt tightness in the back of his shoulder/triceps area during his tune-up start on Sunday and was taken out after one inning. An MRI revealed that he has a strained right teres major muscle, and he'll be shut down from throwing for two weeks with the possibility that he'll be out up to at least eight weeks to start the season.
There have been questions about the depth of the Guardians' starting rotation to this point, and now that depth will certainly be tested, as McKenzie is right behind Shane Bieber as one of Cleveland's most important pitchers. Last season, McKenzie broke out in a big way, posting a 2.96 ERA in 31 total appearances (30 starts), with 190 strikeouts, a 3.59 FIP, and a 129 ERA+.
The 25-year-old was expected to help anchor the rotation in 2023, and he will certainly still do that when he returns, but for potentially two months, the Guardians will have to rely on young pitching talent to bridge the gap. Guys like Hunter Gaddis, Konnor Pilkington, and Xzavion Curry will be called upon initially, but with the Guardians currently carrying three catchers, one wonders if at some point the team might look for a veteran elsewhere who might be able to help log some innings as well.
This isn't a death knell for the Guardians' season before things even begin, but it is adversity the team didn't really experience much last year. For the most part, Cleveland had great injury luck in 2022, and its randomness is something you can never predict. The Guardians have plenty of young pitching talent; now it just has to step up and prove itself sooner than expected.