Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Mike Clevinger officially returned to action with the big league squad on Wednesday. Clevinger was down at the team’s alternate training site in Lake County. The reason being was due to the fact that he had violated club policies regarding the Coronavirus.
Clevinger, along with fellow starter Zach Plesac, faced consequences related to their actions. Plesac remains down at the team’s training site, and it looks like his stay down there for the foreseeable future.
Indians President of Baseball Operations Chris Antonetti provided more on Plesac’s status to reporters on Tuesday.
Chris Antonetti said he called Zach Plesac after the decision was made to have Mike Clevinger start tomorrow and he explained to Plesac that they don't have an opportunity for him at this time at the Major League level.
— Mandy Bell (@MandyBell02) August 25, 2020
It remains to be seen if the organization will trade Plesac prior to Monday’s Trade Deadline. He remains under control through 2025 and hasn’t even earned a full year of service time yet. For a small market team like the Indians, both of those things are extremely valuable. However, Cleveland also knows that they have to improve their offense if they are serious about contending. Therefore, with a number of teams looking to bolster their rotation, a trade is possible for the right return.
Mike Clevinger Returns to the Mound
Overall, Clevinger fared well in his return to the mound after a three-week hiatus. Clevinger threw a total of 86 pitches – 58 of which were strikes against the Minnesota Twins. He gave up eight hits and two earned runs including one home run, and he racked up six strikeouts.
Clevinger gave up a home run to Twins leadoff hitter and right fielder Max Kepler during the first inning of the game. The home run came on a four-seam fastball right near the heart of the strike zone.
On the year, Kepler has had a slow time getting going. Over the span of 105 at bats or 30 games, Kepler is batting .238/.352/.486 with 25 hits, five doubles, seven home runs, 18 RBI, 17 walks, and 22 strikeouts. So far he has been a much more effective hitter at Target Field compared to on the road. At home, Kepler is batting .302/.436/.512. On the road, he has a .180/.275/.410 slash line.
Meanwhile, Clevinger is scheduled to make his next start next Tuesday against the Kansas City Royals. That start comes a day after the August 31st Trade Deadline, and, like Plesac, it remains to be seen if the Indians will use Clevinger as a trade chip to get a bat.
Next Up for the Indians
The Indians have an off day Thursday and then start a three-game series against the St. Louis Cardinals on Friday. Triston McKenzie (1-0, 1.50 ERA) will make his second big league start for Cleveland while Daniel Ponce de Leon (0-2, 5.25 ERA) will get the nod for St. Louis.
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