SP Triston McKenzie
Triston McKenzie was actually the inspiration for this column. At just 23-years-old, he’s got a bright future, especially with what he showed at just 22 in the pandemic shortened 2020 season. The thing that impressed many in that year was the control the future-ace was showing. Control he’s all but lost in 2021.
He’s not too far off of his 2020 numbers, luckily. In 33 innings pitched in 2020, he gave up 21 hits, 12 earned runs, six home runs, and struck out 42.
In 2021, he’s pitched 28 innings, 21 hits, 18 earned runs, seven home runs, and has struck out 40. The only “big” difference is the earned runs and it’s not so sizeable that it’s a big deal. The problem is the stat that wasn’t listed.
In 2020 he walked just nine batters in 33 innings. In 2021, he’s walked 25 so far in just 28 innings. That’s part of why he’s seen a spike in earned runs as well.
Clearly, his control is off. Maybe it’s a confidence thing, maybe the ball is leaving his hand too soon or too late. Maybe he’s not pitching to a catcher who gets his style or is calling bad pitches for him. Maybe he’s spending too much time shaking off pitches called for him.
The reasons why McKenzie’s control has gone away is anyone’s guess. The best play is to send him down to the Columbus Clippers Triple-A club for a while, and see if they can’t rework his mechanics or just allow him to get his confidence back.