The Cleveland Indians drafted Triston McKenzie back in 2015 and he was a top prospect in the organization right away. The right-hander just turned 24 years old and so far, fans are waiting to see him take that next step into his full potential.
That sure looked like what took place Sunday afternoon in Detroit. The Indians jumped out to an early 11-0, providing rare run support from McKenzie. So how did he respond? By retiring the first 23 batters he faced as he chased a perfect game.
Triston McKenzie showing flashes of greatness
The lanky right-hander entered the day with a 1-5 record on the year with a 5.66 ERA. He has bounced up and down between the Indians and Triple-A this year because he just could not stop walking batters at one point.
He was demoted in May, only to make a quick return due to injuries. But he finally spent some real time working on his game leading up to the All-Star break and has looked better in his past few starts.
Sunday’s game saw McKenzie post 11 strikeouts and walk zero batters. Those stats alone would have been phenomenal news, even if he did allow a few earned runs. Flirting with history was just a bonus on a much-needed day for this club.
McKenzie has been seen as a building block for years and made his MLB debut during the bizarre 2020 season. That made this year his first normal season at the major league level, so some growing pains were to be expected.
He has all but eliminated his serious problem with walks, as he averaged around four per game to start the year, and mowed down a Detroit Tigers lineup that has been better in the latter half of the year.
The Indians are still without Shane Bieber and Aaron Civale as the season is starting to wind toward a close. Zach Plesac is back on the mound, but McKenzie is the one who has the potential to be the next Bieber on this staff. He was also drafted to be just that before Bieber stole the spotlight.
This is still only one great performance, but gradual improvement from McKenzie since his initial demotion is something for fans to be excited about heading into 2022.