Baseball is one long and grueling sport, with lots of ups and downs throughout the season, even getting the best of the players sometimes. That is what’s happening with Triston McKenzie of the Guardians and Taylor Hearn of the Rangers, as there have been parts throughout the season where the game has gotten the best of them.
Both McKenzie and Hearn have average to below average win-loss records to start the year, with McKenzie at 3-5, and Hearn at 4-4.
McKenzie’s 3-5 record doesn’t portray the full story of his season. He currently has a 3.09 ERA with 55 total strikeouts to only 18 walks and in four of his last five starts, he has gone at least seven innings. In his ten games as a starter, he has given up two or fewer runs in seven of those starts. In four of his five losses, however, the Guardians offense only managed to put up one run. While McKenzie has been doing his part, the offense has not.
— Cleveland Guardians (@CleGuardians) May 24, 2022
McKenzie has recently struggled with the long ball, with Friday’s outing being no different. He gave up two solo shots in the first two innings. In the 39 total hits that he has given up this season, 11 of those have been for home runs. Essentially, more than a quarter of the hits he has given up haven’t come back.
This has not been an issue for him all season—this is more of a recent thing. McKenzie only gave up one home run in his first five starts, and has ended up giving up 10 home runs in his last five starts. When it looked like he would only give up a dinger once in a blue moon, these last five games have shown that it is much more common than we thought.
Hearn, on the other hand, has a 5.40 ERA. He has given up 58 hits throughout his starts, comparing that to McKenzie’s 34, and has given up a total of 30 walks.
All that damage he has given up has resulted in him typically getting taken out early, resulting in more bullpen usage when he gets the nod. In 11 starts so far, Hearn has gone past five innings just twice, while going less than five innings a total of six times.
The one thing Hearn has done really well is prevent the long ball. He has only given up seven homers this year so, while he may give up hits, they’re usually not for automatic runs, giving him the chance to clean up the mess he created, which is an underrated value in a pitcher.
McKenzie has shown that he can be part of an electric duo, along with Shane Bieber, for the Guardians, while Hearn has shown he can hang as a backend starter for the Rangers.
As long as the two players, who are both still early in their careers, understand that bad stretches will happen and don’t let it get in their heads, they’ll be able to reach their potential, and then some.