Zach Plesac's days in the Cleveland Guardians rotation are numbered
Zach Plesac got knocked around again Saturday afternoon, giving up five runs on eight hits in 3 1/3 innings against the Boston Red Sox.
Through five starts this season, Plesac's ERA sits at 7.59, and the rest of his numbers aren't very pretty. He owns a 4.68 FIP, and opposing teams are batting a robust .374 against him. But hey, here's a silver lining: His xERA is at 5.33 and his BABIP against is .415, so there's some positive regression for you. But the fact of the matter is that Plesac is getting hit hard and often.
And with the emergence of young starters like Logan Allen and Tanner Bibee, that means Plesac's days with the Cleveland Guardians are likely numbered.
The fact is, Plesac's been struggling for a while now. His ERA+ has gone down each season since 2020 (from 196 in 2020 to 92 in 2021 to 89 in 2022, and now 57 in 2023), when he maintained a 2.28 ERA in those eight limited starts and it looked like he would be a mainstay in the rotation for years to come.
But things can change quickly on a pitching staff, especially with dynamic young talent ready to break through and make its mark. Plesac was likely on borrowed time anyway, not just with Allen and Bibee, but with Gavin Williams likely ready to find his way to Cleveland this season too. Not to mention Peyton Battenfield has been serviceable to start his young career.
Plesac just isn't fooling anyone these days. His fastball velocity has gone down every year since 2020 as well, as his four-seamer currently sits at an average of 91.2 mph. A guy like Shane Bieber can get away with not blowing guys away with the fastball, but Plesac doesn't feature exceptional secondary pitches or the type of command that will keep him from getting shelled.
And this is all without saying that the team has had its issues with Plesac in the past, starting with the 2020 season, when he and Mike Clevinger broke COVID protocol in Chicago to see some friends. Since then, Plesac has broken his thumb while aggressively ripping off his shirt, and then broke his pitching hand last September punching the mound during a rough start against the Seattle Mariners.
It's hard not to feel bad for Plesac in the sense that he knows he's been struggling on the mound for a while now. And he's certainly been the victim of some bad luck here and there, but the fact is he's simply not pitching well enough to warrant a spot int he Guardians rotation, not when so many other pitchers are waiting in the wings.
As guys like Aaron Civale and Triston McKenzie move closer to returning to the Guardians sometime in May, it'll likely spell the end of Plesac's time with the team, at least at a major-league level. It's not like the bullpen makes much sense as a landing spot, either; Xzavion Curry is thriving in his role as the multi-inning relief option right now.
Much like the offense in 2022, the pitching staff is undergoing its own cutthroat evolution in 2023, ushering in a new era of talent for baseball's youngest team.