Triston McKenzie has molded himself from top prospect to Ace of a playoff team. He showed out in most recent start getting the win after eight shutout innings, allowing just two hits on eight strikeouts against the first place Houston Astros to take the top spot in Week 18 of our #HighFive list.
1. Triston “Dr. Sticks” McKenzie
Since debuting in August of 2020, Triston McKenzie has allowed an opponents batting average of .194 which is the fifth lowest for any starting pitcher who has thrown at least 200 innings.
That is lower than the likes of eight time All-Star Max Scherzer and last year’s American League Cy Young winner Robbie Ray.
In his last seven starts, McKenzie has a 1.70 ERA with 48 strikeouts and a 4-2 record.
Before his last start McKenzie cut his braids and stayed solid on the mound with a fade.
The Cleveland Guardians will have an opportunity to make a postseason appearance this season winning the American League Central Division or securing a Wild Card spot. One player Cleveland will count on down the home stretch is starting pitcher Triston McKenzie.
McKenzie is coming off an exceptional July making five starts and finishing with a 3-1 record and a 1.34 ERA. On the season, he has a 7-7 record with a 3.24 ERA and 106 strikeouts. While his last start against the Boston Red Sox didn’t go so well, he still put together a near historic July for Cleveland.
McKenzie’s best performance came on July 14th against the Detroit Tigers. The 24 year-old was dealing that game, going eight innings, pitching a shutout and striking out a career-high 12 batters. The right-hander had complete control and command of his fastball against Detroit and he knew early on that his fastball would be unhittable.
“It felt really, really good today,” he said in an article on mlb.com. “My mechanics felt really, really good, but usually in the first inning once I see some swings, I’m able to get a gauge on how my stuff is going to work on a day.”
His battery mate Austin Hedges, was impressed with his performance and had the best view in the stadium.
“He had the slider going back door to lefties, in to them, away to righties,” Hedges said. “We gave guys different looks every at-bat. Nobody was able to really learn what he was doing and they were all clutching.”
You really don’t see starting pitchers going eight innings like that. For McKenzie to do something like that shows how much of a competitor he is and how much he wants to win. And he got praise from his opponent too.
“He was tough to me,” Tigers center fielder Riley Greene said. “He was going fastball up, trying to get my eye level, and then going curveball down. With him, I feel like his curveball comes out of the same spot as his fastball does, so it’s kind of tricky. He throws it just like his fastball.”
McKenzie has had multiple starts this season where he has dominated on the mound.
His teammate, Josh Naylor has enjoyed watching him go out there and deal night in and night out.
“That’s what I expect of him every time,” Naylor said after McKenzie’s performance against the Tigers. “He’s a phenomenal pitcher. … He’s having fun out there, but the last three outings have just been incredible. That Yankees outing really brought some great stuff out of him. I’m excited for the future for him.”
He’s also been dependable, pitching in five innings or more in 15 of the 19 starts he’s made this season. That’s why each start he makes in August will be crucial, and you better believe he’s going to go out there and leave it all on the field.
McKenzie’s next scheduled start will be on Tuesday against the Arizona Diamondbacks when he’ll have the opportunity to start August off on a strong note.
High Five Top 10 MLBbros of the first half of the season
Aaron Judge is earning one of the biggest bags in all of baseball with his 2022 season
His league-leading 33 home runs before the All-Star Break is tied for the most in franchise history and he has his Yankees on top of baseball with 64 wins.
Judge started in his fourth career All-Star Game, leading all players with 3,726,498 votes.
The American League MVP race will most likely come down to Judge and the Angels Unicorn Shohei Ohtani, who won the award last year.
Considering Vlad Jr. nearly won the Triple Crown and still lost the race to Ohtani last year, Judge will need to hit at least 60 home runs and have the Yankees with the best record in baseball in order to gain a leg up.
“We need more Black people in the stadium,” was the message on Dodgers superstar outfielder’s shirt during All-Star Game batting practice.
Today in the Lead Off: When asked about his shirt by https://t.co/DG3CFND3cB reporter @_teammill, Betts’ response was, “there’s not a lot of Blacks in baseball, so I’m trying to change it.”
Those who have seen Betts at ballparks across the nation this year have been treated to a show on a nightly basis.
He’s having one of the best years of his career as he is on pace for a career-high number of homers with 20 already, and an RBI total that’s right in line with what he did in his MVP season in 2018.
Betts is batting .265 with an .863 OPS this season. His Dodgers lead the National League with 60 wins, which is important considering the team with the best record in each league gets a bye in round one of the playoffs.
Stanton has been Aaron Judge’s right-hand man this season with 24 home runs, just two behind Astros’ Yordan Alvarez for second in the American League.
Stanton showed off his home run power in his hometown of Los Angeles during his fifth career All-Star Game, hitting a two-run home run into the same left field bleachers he sat at as a kid.
There is no player you know it’s a home run quicker than Stanton ☄️
The American League Central race will be one of the more interesting coming down the stretch, and Anderson’s play will be a huge factor for which team goes on an early vacation.
Devin Williams has not given up a run since May 10th and is making his case to be the best reliever in baseball. The 2020 National League Rookie of the Year was a last-minute addition to the All-Star team but worked a clean inning in Tuesday night’s game.
Williams is leading the Majors in holds with a 1.77 ERA with 59 strikeouts this year.
In June, batters hit only .032 against him, and in July that number stands at 1.43.
Getting to watch Byron Buxton in a pennant race is going to be something special.
The five-tool outfielder is one of the biggest playmakers with the bat and glove in the Majors and he proved it on the biggest stage when he went back-to-back with Giancarlo Stanton in this year’s All-Star Game.
Buxton’s homer turned out to be the decisive blow in the 3-2 win for the American League. Although he did not win the MVP award, he did win a fan a season’s supply of beer.
His 23 home runs rank fifth in the American League, but he will need to get his .216 average up if he wants to get his Minnesota Twins into the playoffs and over the hump of the Wild Card Game.
Jazz Chisholm Jr.
On the back of a solid first full season in the Majors, Jazz Chisholm Jr. is putting up better numbers in almost every offensive category.
In addition to his personal highs, Chisholm also leads Miami in most hitting statistics and became the first ever Bahamian player to be named an All-Star and would have been the first starter had it not been for a back injury he suffered a few weeks before the break.
“The Bahamian Blur” will continue to crush baseballs after coming into the stadium with more swag and style than anyone else in the locker room, despite the direction where his struggling Marlins go.
Josh Bell could end up being the biggest commodities when the Major League Baseball August 2nd trade deadline comes around. Bell leads all MLBbros with a .311 batting average and is in the top 5 for first baseman in multiple categories including hits, OPS, triples, hits and average.
This is the last year of Bell’s rookie deal, so he’ll be earning himself some cash if he gets the chance to play with a contender during the final part of the season.
“Dr. Sticks” is having a great sophomore season but has done his best work in July.
In three starts this month McKenzie has gone 21 innings without giving up a run. He has 23 strikeouts with just six walks and nine hits over that span as his Guardians sit just two games back of the Twins for the American League Central pennant.
This year McKenzie has a 3.20 ERA with 96 strikeouts and a 7-6 record.
His next start will come on the Southside of Chicago against Tim Anderson and the White Sox.
Michael Harris II
Michael Harris is the youngest player in baseball but has impacted his team maybe more than anyone on this list not named Aaron Judge or Mookie Betts.
The Atlanta native has proved to the Braves that the center fielder of their future is already patrolling their outfield ground.
He has already made some of the best defensive plays this season and will be fighting for both a Gold Glove and the National League Rookie of the Year award as this season comes to an end.
Marcus Semien – The 2021 MLBbro of the Year got off to a slow start in his first season of his seven-year, $175 Million deal, but he has heated up over the last month. Watch for him to find his way into the top 10 at season’s end.
Cedric Mullins– CM Storm is the leader on one of the most fun, young teams in baseball and the O’s will need big things out of him if they want to steal a playoff spot from one of the other American League East teams.
J.P. “The Claw” Crawford- Was on his way to making his first career All-Star Game before a suspension for fighting put an end to that. Despite that his Mariners won 14 straight to close out the first half.
Ke’Bryan Hayes – One of the best young defenders in baseball is going to be the best at the hot corner sooner rather than later.
Taijuan Walker – Walker is quietly having a better year than his 2021 All-Star season and will be a key member in the backend of the Mets rotation as they fight for the World Series.
Triston McKenzie didn’t make the All-Star squad but he’s had some of the most dominant starts by a pitcher this season. On Thursday, Dr. Sticks allowed no runs, five hits and recorded a career-high 12 strikeouts on a career-high 109 pitches in a 4-0 win over the Tigers.