Pitching was king in Black baseball this week. Four pitchers made Week 14 of our #HighFive list for the first time ever, led by Triston McKenzie who has yet to allow a single run in his two July starts.
- Triston McKenzie
No starting pitcher in the Majors has gotten off to a hotter start as Triston McKenzie has over his first two games this month. This past Sunday afternoon “Stix” brought his good stuff to the mound in Kansas City. He got the win, throwing six shutout innings, racking up four strikeouts and allowing just three hits.
In his July 3rd outing against the New York Yankees, he allowed no runs on one hit and seven strikeouts through seven innings put McKenzie in the fifth spot on last week’s #HighFive, but after back-to-back shutouts he earns the top spot.
— Guardians Pitching Highlights (@GuardsPitching) July 10, 2022
McKenzie is now 6-6 this season with a 3.47 ERA and 84 strikeouts. He has continually shown improvements this year after posting a 4.95 ERA in his first full Major League season. He will have to be a key contributor for a Guardians team that will be fighting for the American League Central pennant throughout the second half of the year.
- Devin Williams
“The Airbender” has not given up a run in 25 consecutive outings dating back to May 10th, and yet still he was not named to the National League All-Star roster.
“I have never been an All-Star at any level, ” Williams told reporters after his 24th straight scoreless appearance Tuesday night. “There was never a time at any level that I felt like I deserved that either. But now, I do. I feel like I am a top-five reliever in the National League.”
Over his last seven games, Willams has gone 6.1 innings and struck out 12 batters and allowed only three hits. Before the All-Star break, Williams will get a chance to extend his scoreless innings streak during a four game weekend series in the Bay Area against the San Francisco Giants.
- Hunter Greene
The Cincinnati Reds flame-throwing rookie Hunter Greene takes number three on our #HighFive list after having one of the greatest performances in Major League history in his start last Saturday against Tampa Bay.
Greene threw 38 of his 114 pitches over 100mph, which is the second-most since Statcast began tracking. He gave up just one run over six innings along with nine strikeouts and just three hits as his Reds would hold on to win 5-4.
The second overall pick in the 2017 MLB Draft has collected at least six strikeouts in 13 of his 17 starts this season and he ranks in the top 15 in the Majors with 107 strikeouts.
His next start will be Friday night when his Reds take on the St. Louis Cardinals.
- Taijuan Walker
Taijuan Walker has been one of the best free agent signings for any team in the Major Leagues over the last two seasons and he takes the fourth spot on our #HighFive list. He added another gem to his resume last Sunday. Walker went seven shutout innings, striking out seven and allowing just three hits as he matched zeros with Miami Marlins All-Star Sandy Alcantara.
Walker made his first career All-Star team last season. This year, his numbers are on pace to be even better than that.
He now has a 1.50 ERA at home, which is the third lowest in all of baseball and in four of his last six starts he has given up less than one run to the tune of a 1.85 ERA and 43 strikeouts.
Walker will close out his first half of the season on Friday when he takes on the Chicago Cubs.
- Mookie Betts
Mookie Betts registered his first walk-off hit as a member of the Dodgers last Thursday night to earn himself the final spot on our #HighFive list.
Next week will be big for Betts. He was selected to his sixth-career All-Star Game, but it will be the first time he suits up for the National League since there was no game in 2020 and resting a hip injury that bothered him throughout the season.
“Obviously the first is the most special, but every All-Star Game is really special,” Betts told reporters. “It is always memorable and as you get older, you can just remember all the All-Star Games you made and all the times you were amongst the best and tell your kids and grandkids those stories. I never take those for granted.”
Mookie Betts with his first walk-off as a member of the Dodgers! pic.twitter.com/j9yyaTcftv
— Blake Harris (@BlakeHarrisTBLA) July 7, 2022
Entering the final series of the first half of the year, Betts ranks fifth in the National League with 20 home runs and is batting .269 with 47 RBI and a .880 OPS.