Dodgers’ 4-2 Win Keeps Guardians’ Pitching Picture Cloudy

Dodgers' 4-2 Win Keeps Guardians' Pitching Picture Cloudy

GOODYEAR. AZ — The Cleveland Guardians‘ pitching picture remained somewhat clouded Tuesday in a 4-2 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

After a morning-long rain slowed to a drizzle, Triston McKenzie was hit hard once again. Cleveland’s long and lanky right-hander gave up four runs and six hits over 4 1/3 innings,  putting his spring ERA at 8.16.

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As he has done most of the spring, McKenzie left many balls up and over the middle of the plate. That’s what happened in the second inning when veteran David Peralta ripped a McKenzie pitch over the wall for a two-out, three-run homer and 4-0 lead.

McKenzie is in no danger of losing his rotation spot. His spring struggles seem to be a matter of making some delivery adjustments. At 6-foot-7 with very long arms and legs, the right-hander’s timing can be problematic at times. He didn’t show any drop in velocity though his usually big curveball once again didn’t dip as low as usual.

Catcher Cam Gallagher (.190) had a two-run single for Cleveland. It came off three-time National League Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw in the bottom of the second. The left-hander allowed only those runs and four hits without a walk over five innings. He struck out three.

Excellent Relief Effort to Finish Game

Four Cleveland relievers combined to allow only one hit over the final 4 1/3 innings. Lefty Tim Herrin (4.66) gave up the hit and a walk with one strikeout over 1 1/3 innings. Right-hander Xzavion Curry (5.14) fanned three over 1 2/3. Herrin’s sweeping slider and Curry’s sinking fastball have been intriguing enough for manager Terry Francona to keep running the rookies out there. Both youngsters remain in the mix for a possible bullpen job.

Before the game, the Guardians announced that their home opener April 7 against the Seattle Mariners has sold out. Cleveland has sold out every home opener since Progressive Field opened in 1994 except for the 2020 season when no fans were permitted in the ballpark due to COVID.

Possible Pitching Help

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The Guardians have signed 28-year-old right-hander Jhon Romero to a minor-league contract. The native of Nicaragua has posted fine numbers in the minors. He worked in five games for the Washington Nationals in 2021 and four more last year for the Minnesota Twins.

In six years in the minors, he has a 2.84 ERA across 177 1/3 innings. He had 204 strikeouts to 51 walks, allowing 145 hits.

The hard-throwing reliever likely will open the 2023 season at AAA Columbus.

More Minor Moves

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Infielder Tyler Freeman was optioned to Columbus; RHPs Luis Oviedo and Touki Toussaint and 1B/OF Micah Pries were reassigned to the minor-league camp earlier in the day.

Pries had a good camp. He hit .294 with two homers and six RBI. He hit 18 homers at Double-A Akron a year ago. Freeman was disappointing after being one of 17 rookies that helped Cleveland in 2021. This spring, he hit only .147. All five of his hits were singles.

Toussaint, the former Atlanta Braves starter signed to a minor-league contract this winter, had a 14.54 ERA in four games.

Oviedo, 23, made an impression in 7 outings, compiling a 2.35 ERA. Drafted by Cleveland, he was lost in the Rule 5 draft to the Pittsburgh Pirates, pitched a few games there then was traded to the New York Mets and signed back with the Guardians.

The moves mean Gabriel Arias (.341) has won the utility infield job. Roman Quinn (.233) and Richie Palacios (.267) are battling for the last position player spot. Quinn brings good outfield defense and the ability to steal a base. Palacios probably is a tad stronger pinch-hitting option and can play second base as well as the outfield.

Nick Nicked

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Nick Mikolajchak will be sidelined for an indefinite period. He experienced discomfort while pitching against Arizona on March 18. An examination revealed a sprained ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow.

The right-hander had a 1.93 ERA and one save in seven spring outings. In three years in the minors, he has an 8-8 record, 19 saves, and 2.50 ERA overall. In 115 innings, he’s allowed 86 hits and 41 walks, striking out 143.

Main Photo:

Dodgers' 4-2 Win Keeps Guardians' Pitching Picture Cloudy
Josh Naylor of the Cleveland Guardians flies out to center-field against Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Dodgers won, 4-2 in a game played in a drizzle at Goodyear Ballpark. Photo by Chuck Murr.

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