The Cleveland Guardians have designated Zach Plesac for assignment ahead of Triston McKenzie’s debut, the team announced on Twitter earlier today.
Plesac had a 7.59 ERA through five major-league starts this season, which led to him being optioned to Triple-A in late April. He was essentially the same pitcher against minor leaguers: a 7.56 ERA in five starts. So, with McKenzie fully recovered from a shoulder injury and coming off the 60-day injured list today, Plesac will be placed on waivers where other teams can claim him. If he goes unclaimed, the Guardians can outright him to the minors or release him. If he goes unclaimed he could also reject the outright assignment and opt for free agency as he has accumulated more than three years of MLB service time.
Either way, the path is now clear for McKenzie to make his season debut for the Guardians against the Twins today. Following a breakout campaign last season, in which he pitched a career-high 191.1 innings with a career-low 2.96 ERA, the 25-year-old was shut down in spring training with a major teres strain and later placed on the 60-day injured list.
McKenzie struck out 13 batters in 10.1 rehab innings with the Columbus Clippers; his third and final rehab start last Tuesday was cut short by rain but he still managed to strike out three batters in three innings. He joins fellow rotation member Aaron Civale in coming off a lengthy IL stint this weekend to hopefully make up for the Guardians’ lack of offense in recent weeks.
The next decision for the Guardians will be which five pitchers actually make up the rotation when everyone is healthy. In addition to McKenzie and Civale, the Guardians also have Shane Bieber, Logan Allen, and Tanner Bibee lined up with Cody Morris potentially coming off the 60-day injured list soon and Cal Quantrill eligible to return in a couple of weeks.