Cleveland’s chances at a postseason run are more or less nonexistent at this point, but it’s still a troubling development for one of the organization’s most promising young arms. The 24-year-old McKenzie was rocked during his first run with the big league club in 2021, but upon returning from the minors in early July, he looked like a different pitcher entirely.
Over his past eight starts, the former No. 42 overall draft pick has tallied 49 innings with a 3.49 ERA, a 25.8 percent strikeout rate and a 4.3 percent walk rate. His four most recent outings have been particularly dominant, as he’s held opponents to just six runs on a dozen hits and two walks with 28 strikeouts in 28 innings (1.93 ERA). Overall, McKenzie has pitched in 27 big league games dating back to 2020 and put together a 4.40 ERA through his first 124 2/3 innings. He’s clearly trending upward right now, so any mention of shoulder problems is worrisome.
The team hasn’t provided a timeline for McKenzie’s absence, but given the lack of 2021 postseason aspirations, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Indians take a cautious approach to the situation. McKenzie, at this point, looks like a favorite to be penciled into next year’s rotation alongside Shane Bieber, Aaron Civale, Zach Plesac and Cal Quantrill.
For now, he’ll be replaced by the 24-year-old Allen, who is hoping to finish what has been a nightmarish season both in the Majors and in Triple-A on a high note. Allen has allowed 23 earned runs in 22 2/3 Major League innings so far in 2021, and he’s been tagged for 43 runs in 48 2/3 frames of Triple-A ball. He’s long been considered a fairly promising arm, however, and his past several games in Columbus have been trending in the right direction. Through his past five starts (28 2/3 innings), he’s worked to a 4.08 ERA with 35 punchouts against 13 walks.