Cleveland announced (via Mandy Bell from MLB.com) on Tuesday, starter 2 Zach Plesac suffered an undisplaced fracture of his right thumb. On Wednesday, the organization revealed that Plesac will avoid surgery, but will still be missing a significant portion of the time. According to Bell, Plesac will not start a launch program for at least three weeks. In other words, it is certain that he will be away for at least a month, and possibly longer.
Cleveland Director Terry Francona tell bell that the fracture occurred after Plesac’s difficult outing on Sunday against the Twins. He allowed five runs (three earned) on five hits and delivered one walk and one out over 3 2/3 innings. Francona said Plesac was “rather aggressively ripped from his shirt” and got his thumb hit hard on a chair near his locker in the clubhouse. It is incredibly unfortunate.
Plesac, 26, ignored the decision on Sunday, so he at least extended his unbeaten streak to six appearances, going 3-0 with a 2.93 ERA in that span. In 58 2/3 innings out of 10 starts, Plesac in 2021 threw up a 4.14 ERA with 38 strikeouts and 12 goals. In six of his 10 starts, he’s allowed three runs or less. Plesac also posted a career-high 52.7% ground ball rate, with a 16.2% take-out rate and 5.1% walk rate.
Cleveland has a strong brace with 2020 AL Cy Young winner Shane Bieber and right-hander Aaron Civale, but the depth beyond that duo is very slim with Plesac’s absence. Here’s what the rotation looks like at the moment:
- RHP Shane Bieber
- RHP Aaron Civale
- LHP Sam Hentges
- RHP Triston McKenzie (currently in minors)
Hentges and McKenzie are likely, but both remain big question marks. Hentges have only made three starts this year, and none of them have lasted more than five innings. When he left on May 17 against the Angels, he gave up six earned runs in 1 2/3 innings. McKenzie, 23, was switched to Triple-A Columbus on May 22 after five of his eight MLB starts resulted in three earned runs. McKenzie still has to work out his control issues (30 marches in 31 1/3 IP) before he can become a permanent member of the Cleveland rotation. Right-hander Cal Quantrill could be another option, but he hasn’t started a game since last season.
Entering Wednesday, Cleveland (26-20) occupies second place in the Central American League, a game and a half behind the Chicago White Sox, first place. Cleveland will continue their four-game streak against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park on Wednesday. They will then host the Blue Jays for a three-game series this weekend.