August 22: The Indians have officially promoted McKenzie to the active roster. To make a spot for the rookie, outfielder Bradley Zimmer was optioned to the team’s alternate training site.
August 20: Indians right-hander Triston McKenzie will make his major league debut Saturday with a start against the Tigers, Paul Hoynes of cleveland.com reports. The 23-year-old McKenzie is already on the Indians’ 40-man roster, so they won’t have to boot anyone from it to make room for him.
As Hoynes notes, this will be the first competitive outing for McKenzie since June 2018, as forearm and shoulder problems stunted his development for a couple of years. Before that, he was the 42nd overall pick in 2015 and a multi-time top 100 prospect, peaking as Baseball America’s 33rd-best farmhand in 2018. While his injury issues weighed him down that year, he still logged a 2.68 ERA with 8.64 K/9 and 2.78 BB/9 over 90 2/3 innings in his first Double-A season.
Now, the hope for Cleveland is that a healthy McKenzie will become the latest success story in its staff. The Indians have been known for churning out quality starters in recent years, which hasn’t changed this season. The club’s rotation entered Thursday first in the majors in ERA and third in FIP. They’ll remain in the majors’ elite in those categories after American League Cy Young front-runner Shane Bieber turned in yet another brilliant performance in shutting out the Pirates.
Aside from Bieber, the Indians have received tremendous production from Aaron Civale and Zach Plesac (though they optioned the latter last week for a violation of coronavirus protocols). Carlos Carrasco, Adam Plutko and Mike Clevinger have prevented runs at fine clips, but Clevinger was demoted alongside Plesac.