Significant Dilemma Involving Zach Plesac and Mike Clevinger for the Cleveland Indians
The Cleveland Indians are facing a major dilemma right now. That dilemma steams from last week’s news regarding both Zach Plesac and Mike Clevinger. In case you haven’t already heard, both pitchers were put into quarantine by the team for 72 hours. It came after the news that both Plesac and Clevinger hit the town on a Saturday night while the team was in Chicago.
Once both pitchers returned from the restricted list, the Indians clubhouse developed strong feelings about their future on the big league roster. According to Jeff Passan, some of the clubs veterans like Francisco Lindor and Oliver Perez were downright frustrated with what went down. Passan captures it all nicely here.
Following that team meeting, the organization decided to option both starters to their alternate training site. That decision came based on the feelings of the players and front office personnel. Fast forward to now and both Plesac and Clevinger are still down at the training site.
It’s unclear at the moment when one and/or both could return to the big league club. That creates a dilemma for the Indians when deciding which direction to go. With the August 31st Trade Deadline approaching, the Front Office has a major decision to make.
Current State of the Indians Starting Rotation
Heading into play Tuesday, the Cleveland Indians rotation currently has the best ERA in baseball. Cleveland starters have combined for a 2.58 ERA over 22 games or 132 and one-third innings of work. In that span, the team’s starters have racked up an MLB leading 156 strikeouts along with the third-lowest Opponent Batting Average Against (.206) across baseball.
Both Plesac and Clevinger haven’t been a part of the big league starting rotation for almost 10 days now. Plesac last made a start with the big league club on August 8th against the Chicago White Sox. In regards to Clevinger, his last start came almost two weeks ago on August 5th against the Cincinnati Reds.
So, essentially the Indians rotation has been able to hold their own weight without Plesac or Clevinger in the mix. However, that doesn’t mean that the decision regarding what to do moving forward is going to be easy for the Front Office.
After all, Clevinger is a game changer especially when the postseason rolls around. He allows the Indians to have a formidable 1-2-3 punch with right-handers Shane Bieber and Carlos Carrasco. Furthermore, while teams don’t need a fifth starter during the postseason, Plesac gives the team a valuable option to plug in behind the three aforementioned names. There are very few teams around baseball that have that type of luxury.
In fact, a lot of teams would love to have the type of depth that Cleveland has and that’s without even including right-handers Aaron Civale and Adam Plutko. Both Civale and Plutko have made starts for the team this season. If Cleveland were to make the postseason, both would be useful assets as long-men out of the bullpen.
So, what options do the Indians have now regarding Plesac and Clevinger?
Explore Potential Trade Options
If the Cleveland Indians are truly uncomfortable with bringing back Plesac and/or Clevinger to re-join the big league squad, then a trade is inevitable. With the number of teams that are going to be looking to bolster their starting rotation, there would be plenty of interest. Although, the decision to trade either wouldn’t be easy based on the aforementioned discussion regarding the postseason.
Both starters would be of interest to contending teams such as the Atlanta Braves, New York Mets, Houston Astros, and Arizona Diamondbacks. The reason why is because both are controllable and come at an affordable cost even though both are going to earn more in arbitration. Plesac doesn’t even have a year of service time and is earning an affordable salary of a little more than $71,000 dollars this season.
Meanwhile, Clevinger is under control through the 2022 season. Clevinger was slated to make a little more than $4.1 million this year. However, with the Coronavirus pandemic, his salary was adjusted to around $1.5 million. Regardless, the aforementioned contending teams would have an interest in either pitcher.
Although, the Indians could also elect to keep Mike Clevinger in the mix and make Zach Plesac available via trade. That’s especially true if they feel as though that’s the best route to go forward from a team clubhouse chemistry aspect.
Keep Both Pitchers in the Organization
A. Allow Both to Return to the Big League Roster
Additionally, while the demand for one and/or both might be there from contending teams, the Indians might feel as though there is no offer out there that can meet a fair return. Therefore, the organization could elect to keep both as members of the organization.
If the team ends up going with this option, it would only fortify the hallmark of the Indians roster. Assuming the team clinches a postseason spot, that would be extremely valuable in terms of the team’s chances of advancing deep into October.
In regards to a potential return date, it would likely be another handful of days before activation was to happen. With the off days mixed into the schedule, the Indians don’t truly need a fifth starter until right around Labor Day Weekend.
B. Allow One Back on the Big League Roster, Keep the Other on the 40-Man
Assuming both starters remain with the organization, there is always the potential that the Indians elect to bring one back up to join the big league 28-man roster. Meanwhile, the other would stay on the 40-man roster and would be utilized in the event of an injury.
If it were to come down to making this type of a decision, the Indians would likely prefer to have Clevinger back on the big league roster. That would keep Plesac as more of a depth option on the 40-man. Furthermore, it would allow the Indians to once again have the 1-2-3 punch alluded to earlier in this article.
In the end, the dilemma regarding both Zach Plesac and Mike Clevinger isn’t easy for the Cleveland Indians. In fact, it might be one of the biggest decisions for the organization in recent years. That is unless you consider holding onto shortstop Francisco Lindor this past offseason as a major decision.
However, as is always the case with the Indians front office, they will act with tack and courtesy in regards to this. The decision that is made will be the best one possible for the organization. Furthermore, it will be the decision that causes the least amount of rift in the clubhouse. Something that the team can’t afford to have happen if they want to clinch a postseason spot.
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