The Cleveland Guardians should be worried about Triston McKenzie

New York Yankees v Cleveland Guardians - Game Two
New York Yankees v Cleveland Guardians - Game Two / Jason Miller/GettyImages

The 2024 season has been a bit of a rollercoaster for Cleveland Guardians starting pitcher Triston McKenzie. Inconsistency and underwhelming performance have been the consistent themes so far, as he has yet to pitch up to his potential for an extended period.

It would be one thing if it was just an off-start to the year for McKenzie, but everyone is aware that he was sidelined for much of last season due to a UCL injury. The fact that rest and rehab have not seemed to work early on this year is very concerning. McKenzie's average fastball velocity is down again, sitting at a career-low 91 miles per hour. It's tough to pitch with a fastball velocity that is barely above 90, but lacking command in addition to a velocity drop, well, that is pretty much impossible.

When looking at these first three starts, McKenzie has clearly not been able to put together the performances that were expected. 56% of McKenzie's 249 pitches have been strikes, with only 14 of them being swinging strikes (6%). Walks have also been a major problem for McKenzie early on, as he has issued 12 walks in 13 innings, including six against the Yankees this past weekend. There is an alarming trend here in that department, as McKenzie's walk total has increased by two in each start. Luckily, he was able to keep a lifeless Chicago White Sox team off the scoreboard despite walking four batters in the contest.

These early outings certainly seem like McKenzie is destined for another lengthy absence. Something is clearly not right with him at the moment, and it does not seem like anything other than surgery is going to provide an adequate solution. Even then, there is no guarantee that McKenzie will be the player from 2022 that saw him finish with a 2.96 ERA and 0.951 in 31 games (30 starts).

Will McKenzie ever pitch at a high level again? Only time will tell, but betting on that happening at this current juncture would not be a wise decision, considering there is just one full season of outstanding pitching to his name. Every other season from McKenzie has either been abbreviated or unspectacular, and that is something that everyone should be worried about moving forward.