Guardians right-hander Triston McKenzie is headed out on a rehab assignment this Saturday, tweets MLB.com’s Mandy Bell. He’s slated to throw three innings and throw up to 50 pitches in what’ll likely be the first of multiple rehab outings. Cleveland has been without the 25-year-old righty all season due to a teres major strain, and the Guards have felt the absence acutely. Cleveland starters, regularly among the best in baseball, instead rank 15th in MLB with a 4.32 ERA this season. They’ve gotten strong results from several young hurlers Tanner Bibee and Logan T. Allen, but righties Hunter Gaddis, Zach Plesac and (to a lesser extent) Peyton Battenfield have all had their struggles.
McKenzie was Cleveland’s second-best starter in 2022, trailing only ace Shane Bieber in innings pitched (191 1/3) and ERA (2.96) while leading Cleveland starters with a 25.9% strikeout rate. If all goes well on McKenzie’s rehab stint, he’ll likely step back into the rotation alongside Bieber, Bibee, Allen and Cal Quantrill. McKenzie is currently on the 60-day injured list, so Cleveland will have to make a 40-man roster move before long in order to reinstate him.
A few more notes from the AL Central…
- White Sox slugger Eloy Jimenez is hoping to return by next weekend, writes James Fegan of The Athletic. Jimenez told Sox beat writers that on the morning he had his appendix removed, he woke up vomiting and unable to see straight or stand. “I really thought I was going to die,” Jimenez said of that unsettling experience, but the 26-year-old pledged to be back in the lineup soon. Manager Pedro Grifol discussed the ways in which he’ll work each of Jimenez, Jake Burger and third baseman Yoan Moncada into the lineup, noting that playing Moncada or Burger at second base isn’t a consideration. The Sox will likely give Jimenez some time in right field, ostensibly at the expense of Gavin Sheets, and Grifol indicated that the hot-hitting Burger could also see some time at first base. In 106 plate appearances this season, Jimenez has batted .258/.321/.423, though he was on a 14-for-33 hot streak at the time of his placement on the injured list.
- Former top pitching prospect Jackson Kowar is back with the Royals but will move to the bullpen on a long-term basis, writes Jaylon Thompson of the Kansas City Star. Kowar, the No. 33 overall selection in the 2018 draft, was one of several college pitchers around whom the Royals hoped to center their latest rebuilding efforts. It hasn’t gone to plan — either with Kowar specifically or with the rebuild as a whole — as he’s been tattooed for a 10.76 ERA in 46 big league innings. The former Florida Gator standout and top-100 prospect worked near-exclusively as a starter in the minors prior to this season but has made 12 of his 13 appearances in relief in 2023. The transition hasn’t been a smooth one, evidenced by the 26-year-old’s 7.00 ERA and 22-to-15 K/BB ratio in 18 relief innings in Triple-A Omaha, but the team believes enough in the raw stuff to give Kowar a look at the big league level. Manager Matt Quatraro tells Thompson the Royals see Kowar as “someone we can count on going forward.”