Earlier this month after a win against the White Sox, Clevinger made an “oopsie“. It wasn’t a small one either. Both himself and teammate Zach Plesac reportedly went out partying in Chicago later that night. This violated MLB’s COVID-19 policy and both received 10-game suspensions.
With both missing starts, Adam Plutko and Triston McKenzie earned chances to start again. Plutko started 20 games for the Indians in 2019 but moved into a bullpen role heading into this season. McKenzie, the tall and lanky hard-throwing 23-year old, had zero big-league experience before his start this past Saturday. The highly-touted prospect did not disappoint.
McKenzie earned the trust of the Indians’ management with his performance. So much so that he’s already penciled in to start again later this week. That left Wednesday up for debate, as Plesac and Clevinger have both concluded serving their suspensions. Four names total were considered: Clevinger, Plesac, Plutko, and Sam Hentges. As we now know, the Indians have decided to put their trust in Clevinger and have Plesac sit at the Lake County alternate site for now.
It’s an interesting move, as some believed Clevinger could be traded before ever pitching in Cleveland again. He’s been one of the best pitchers in the American League in recent years, but that’s not where Cleveland needs help. They lack offense, bad, flirting with last place in just about every major offensive statistic. Additionally, he’s listed as the top guy in the rotation, but Plesac is five years younger than Clevinger and is having a better season statistically at this juncture.
One theory floating around is that this will be a “showcase” game for Clevinger. Essentially, the Indians are trotting him on the mound in their uniform one last time in the hopes that he performs well and bumps his trade value up. It makes sense, but throwing him out there against the Twins seems like a roll of the dice considering he didn’t make it past four innings his last time facing them.
This club is known for developing starting pitching. That’s led to the departure of both Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer over the past year. He’s a great talent, no doubt. However, don’t be too shocked to see him on the move before the deadline. If he does stick around, keep your eye on relief pitcher Oliver Perez. Following the incident in Chicago, reports surfaced of Perez threatening to leave the team if either guy was welcomed back.
We’ll get an answer to that threat on Wednesday.
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