Cleveland has made their plan official by optioning Triston McKenzie back to Triple-A and calling up Bradley Zimmer in his place. McKenzie is expected to be recalled again on Monday, when Cleveland plays a doubleheader against the White Sox. He will be eligible to return as the team’s 27th man and can be sent down again afterward.
Bradley Zimmer is starting in center field and batting ninth for the Indians today.— Zack Meisel (@ZackMeisel) May 27, 2021
McKenzie’s move was expected, but Zimmer’s promotion comes as a bit of a surprise. The lanky lefty-hitting outfielder has hit well in Triple-A after a rough start to the season, but he wasn’t the first person I thought would be coming back to the majors. Through 18 games he sits with a .267/.413/.367 slash, good for a wRC+ of 124. He has still struck out 34.7% of the time, but at this point, it just looks like part of his game that isn’t going away.
In 510 plate appearances in the majors, Zimmer carries a 32.2% strikeout rate and 8% walk rate. For a guy as fast as he is (among the fastest by Baseball Savant’s sprint speed), his .320 career BABIP is probably a little low and might go up, along with everything else, if he can make more solid contact.
Zimmer will get put in the starting lineup immediately, batting ninth against lefty Matthew Boyd. His start in center field shifts Harold Ramirez to right field, Josh Naylor to first, and Jake Bauers to the bench. A common formation when the team faces a lefty and Bauers needs to sit.
As for McKenzie, he will probably just chill out in Columbus for a few days and come back up on regular rest to pitch one of the two games against the White Sox Monday. McKenzie held the Tigers to one hit in a losing effort Thursday night, striking out five batters of five innings of work.