Indians starter Mike Clevinger set to return to the big leagues

The 28-year-old will start against Texas on Monday

James Rapien
June 12, 2019 - 12:10 pm

CLEVELAND, Ohio – The Indians’ rotation will get a boost on their upcoming road trip. Terry Francona announced Mike Clevinger would start for the Tribe on Monday against the Rangers.

Clevinger, 28, hasn’t pitched for the Indians since April 7 because of a Teres major muscle strain in his back.

“I definitely think I’m ready,” he said. “I’m getting more and more in sync and kind of picking up where I left off and each time I get back on the bump, I just feel more like me.”

Clevinger got off to a great start to the season, throwing 12 shutout innings and allowing just two hits in two starts.

He pitched 5⅓ shutout innings for Double-A Akron on Tuesday night. He gave up three hits, throwing 67 pitches (51 strikes). His night ended with a 10-pitch bullpen session.

Clevinger threw five pitches of 97 mph or more in his last start for the Indians. He topped that multiple times on Tuesday, with some having him clocked at 99 mph. He attributes the increase in velocity weather getting warmer.

“Last night was really good,” Francona said. “Will he be able to command all of his pitches the way he did with six weeks of spring training and a couple starts? I don’t know – you hope.

“We’ll keep an eye on him and try to build him up in a way where he can stay healthy and be healthy and be productive. It sure is exciting to see what he’s doing.”

Clevinger admits that he bothered the training staff everyday about returning to the mound. The road to recovery was shorter than initially expected, but that’s probably because he was doing everything in his power to get healthy.

“The want to is so strong,” Francona said. “There’s a reason he got better quick. The first time he threw down in Miami, I thought James [Harris] was going to pull a hammy trying to slow him down.”

Clevinger said his goal was to return before the All-Star break. He wasn’t supposed to pick up a baseball for 6-8 weeks, but he began throwing in late April.

“Every single injury to date in baseball, they didn't pick up a ball for six-to-eight weeks,” he said. “I got lucky, I guess you could say. It's hard to say after an injury you got lucky, but that was kind of the case here."

The Indians have dealt with injuries all season long, but it looks like there will be plenty of Sunshine in downtown Cleveland this summer.