The Cleveland Guardians cruised to a 10-2 victory over the Oakland Athletics on Friday at Progressive Field. Cleveland has been one of the best teams in MLB to begin the year despite Shane Bieber's season-ending injury and Triston McKenzie's early-season struggles. On Friday, though, McKenzie bounced back against the Athletics.

McKenzie surrendered just one run across five innings pitched. He added six strikeouts. McKenzie, who has dealt with command issues in 2024, did walk four hitters. With that being said, he only allowed three hits.

McKenzie surrendered an early home run in the game. After the victory, he was asked if the solo shot upset him and got him locked in for the rest of his outing.

“Not really… I definitely think it straightened me up a little bit,” McKenzie told reporters, via Bally Sports Cleveland. “But at the same time, I think the energy was there from pitch one.”

The Guardians usually lean on their pitching rotation. In 2024, however, the offense has led the way. Meanwhile, McKenzie, as mentioned earlier, had struggled for the most part before Friday's start.

He opted against Tommy John surgery in 2023, choosing instead to rest and recover. The decision has led some to wonder if that's why he did not pitch well to begin this season. McKenzie recently confirmed that he believes in his decision, though, and Friday's performance proves he can still pitch at a high level.

Triston McKenzie features the potential to become Guardians ace

Cleveland Guardians starting pitcher Triston McKenzie (24) receives a new ball after giving up a home run to Oakland Athletics third baseman Abraham Toro (not pictured) during the first inning at Progressive Field.
Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

McKenzie has flashed signs of stardom in the past. He was a top prospect as well. The Guardians believe in McKenzie.

With Bieber out due to Tommy John surgery, McKenzie will have the opportunity to lead the rotation. Sure, Friday's start was against a lackluster Athletics ball club. It still was an encouraging outing, though.

“I'd say it's the best execution (of his four starts this season),” McKenzie said. “I feel like every start has kind of been the same physically. That's probably the best I've gone out there and looked from pitch one.”

McKenzie entered his start against the Athletics with an ERA above 6.00. He now has a 5.00 ERA. His numbers still don't look incredible, but it is also early in the season.

There is no denying the fact that Triston McKenzie has the potential to become a star. He features enough quality breaking pitches to consistently get big league hitters out. However, he must improve his command in order to truly get back on track.

McKenzie's 15 walks currently lead the league. In fact, he has more walks than strikeouts (11) up to this point.

Friday's game was a step in the right direction. Still, he allowed three base-on-balls in the game. Perhaps his start against the Athletics will be an all-around confidence boost, though.

Guardians fans should remain confident in the 26-year-old. After all, he was limited to only four total starts in 2023 due to injury, so he is still searching for consistency after missing so much time last year.

The Guardians will carry their 14-6 record (tied for the best record in the American League) into Saturday's clash with the Athletics.