The Guardians placed starter Triston McKenzie on the 15-day injured list over the weekend. Cleveland announced the injury as an elbow sprain and indicated there was some concern about his UCL.
That hinted at a potential long-term absence, which unfortunately will come to pass. McKenzie told reporters this afternoon he’ll be shut down from throwing entirely for around a month with a UCL sprain (relayed by Zack Meisel of the Athletic). He’ll be reevaluated a few weeks from now to determine whether he can begin a throwing program.
Even in a best-case scenario that sees McKenzie cleared to start throwing around the All-Star Break, he’ll need multiple weeks to get back to game shape. The Guardians are sure to proceed cautiously with concern about his elbow ligament. It seems hard to envision McKenzie getting back on the Progressive Field mound before August given that timeline, though the club hasn’t provided any specifics beyond the righty’s shutdown period.
It’s the second significant injury of what has been a frustrating season. McKenzie strained the teres major muscle in his throwing shoulder at the end of Spring Training. That kept him from making his debut until June 4. Two starts later, he lands back on the shelf with another notable arm injury.
Getting almost nothing out of McKenzie thus far is one of the reasons for Cleveland’s underwhelming start to the season. The Guardians are 33-38, well off last year’s 92-win pace. A bleak AL Central picture still has Cleveland in the thick of the division race but the team’s early performance hasn’t been inspiring. McKenzie was among the better pitchers in the league last year, working to a 2.96 ERA over a career-high 191 1/3 innings.
As they do with regularity, Cleveland has developed a few highly-regarded young arms into productive MLB pitchers this season. Tanner Bibee and Logan Allen have performed well as rookies. They join Shane Bieber, who’s pitching below his peak level but still effectively, at the top of the staff. Top prospect Gavin Williams is poised to make his big league debut in McKenzie’s stead tomorrow, while veteran righty Aaron Civale rounds out the current group.