Just days before Opening Day, the Cleveland Guardians have been dealt with an injury to one of their top starting pitchers. Triston McKenzie will cease throwing for at least two weeks due to a strain of his right teres major muscle which is in the back of the shoulder. The Guardians expect him to miss up to eight weeks overall due to the injury, according to Zack Meisel.
McKenzie was pulled from his final spring training start Sunday because he felt tightness in his tricep and the back of his shoulder, according to Mandy Bell.
After struggling in 2021, McKenzie had a breakout season in 2022 for Cleveland, posting career-highs in starts (30), ERA (2.96), innings pitched (191.1) and strikeouts (190). His 0.951 WHIP was good enough for fifth among all qualified pitchers in Major League Baseball.
Cleveland is the odds-on favorite to repeat as AL Central champions in 2023 following a 92-win season in 2022.
Despite the talent that McKenzie possesses, the Guardians should be ok with him missing an extended period of time. Cleveland is equipped with one of the best rotations in baseball and sported the sixth-best team ERA in the league last season.
Still, the loss of a player of Triston McKenzie's caliber, especially in the week leading up to the start of the regular season, sheds a bit of a dim light on a team. McKenzie struggled during spring training this month. Perhaps the injury contributed to his 7.63 ERA in 15.1 innings this spring.
The Guardians open up their 2023 regular season Thursday night against the Seattle Mariners in a battle of two playoff teams from a year ago.