Triston McKenzie is back on the mound for the Cleveland Indians on Friday as he looks to keep the magic going following Thursday’s walk-off win.
McKenzie is also making his own return, even though it has nothing to do with any injury-related absence.
He was just struggling.
The lanky right-hander last pitched June 12 before finally getting some time to work on his game in the minors.
Friday marks his return and we identified three simple goals for him to attain against the Kansas City Royals and in general moving forward.
Triston McKenzie will be promoted from Triple-A to start for the Indians tomorrow.
— Zack Meisel (@ZackMeisel) July 8, 2021
3. Fewer Than 4 Walks
Allowing free passes has been one of McKenzie’s biggest problems all season.
He has walked 39 batters in 42.1 innings and is averaging nearly four per start.
The worst start of his season came on May 21 in a 10-0 blowout loss against the Minnesota Twins.
McKenzie only lasted 3.1 innings in the game.
While he only allowed two hits, six runs came around to score on his watch after he walked five Twins batters.
The front office planned for McKenzie to go spend time in Columbus, but that did not happen until June because he was kept with the club out of necessity.
Focusing on pounding the strike zone is the key for him Friday.
Letting batters put the ball in play is better than giving them a base without even needing to swing the bat.
2. Reach 90 Pitches
McKenzie is already stretched out as a starter this year.
However, he has only reached the 90-pitch mark on two occasions.
Him reaching this mark ultimately depends on if he can limit the walks and not give Terry Francona a reason to give a quick hook.
McKenzie’s season-high of 92 pitches actually came against the Royals back on May 6.
While he did allow his usual four walks, he did not let a run score in five innings on the mound.
1. Reach The 6th Inning
— Daryl Ruiter (@RuiterWrongFAN) July 9, 2021
We end with another goal that ties into the others.
McKenzie has lasted at least five innings in four separate starts this year.
Reaching the sixth inning as a goal sets the Indians up for success because it means something is going right in order to leave him out there that long.
And in general, it gives the bullpen a break as they continue to deal with a young starting rotation.
Fans must remember McKenzie remains a key building block for the future.
A few bad starts will not change that.
But it would still be nice to see him perform well before the deadline and establish a permanent role in the rotation at a time when playoff hopes are still alive.