Indians Notes: Clevinger to take next step and big league debuts

Zach Plesac will make major league debut Tuesday in Boston

Kyle Lewandowski
May 26, 2019 - 12:43 pm
Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

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Cleveland, Ohio (92.3 The Fan) — Mike Clevinger has been ramping up the workload in recent weeks and this week the righty will take the next step in returning to the mound.

Yesterday, Clevinger traveled out to Goodyear, Arizona to continue his progression. On Monday or Tuesday the 28-year-old will face hitters in a sim game setting where the training staff will control the innings.

Clevinger will have to go on a rehab assignment before returning to the Tribe. While a timetable has yet to be set, no setbacks have appeared to take place thus far as he recovers from a back injury.

A Big League Debut

Saturday night Tribe fans saw a long journey finally pay off for Josh D. Smith. The lefty reliever made his major league debut after nine season in the minor leagues.

The 29-year-old southpaw tossed 1.2 scoreless frames, allowing three singles while striking out three.

"I felt like I pitched good," Smith said. "I went out there with the expectation to execute pitches, I thought I did that. I think at times I didn't throw what I wanted to throw but eventually, once I got to go in at the end of the inning and talk things over, I definitely threw what I wanted to throw."

Francona was pleased with what he saw from the lefty in his debut.

"I thought he was okay," Francona said with a smile after Saturday's game. "I thought he did a good job, thought he had poise. Kind of looked like what we expected. I thought he did good."

After the game, Smith was asked what was something that help him achieve his lifelong goal of pitching in the majors.

"Last year, I had the opportunity to start," Smith said. "I think repeating my delivery over and over, having to do that and execute pitches helped me a lot. One, to throw strikes. Early on in my career, I was only a revliever and I walked way too many guys. I learned how to pitch and get guys out in the strike zone."

Pair his affectiveness on Saturday with the Indians heavy reliance on the bullpen as of late and it seems Smith will get more opportuinties to show what he can do with the big league club.

Another Big League Debut

The move to option Adam Plutko down to Columbus on Saturday left the Indians with a need for a fifth starter on Tuesday night in Boston.

Enter Zach Plesac.

The Indians selected Plesac in the 12th round of the 2016 MLB Draft. Since joining the organization, the 24-year-old has breezed through the minor league system and has proven himself ready for the opportunity.

"He was supposed to go pretty high in the draft, ended up having Tommy John his senior year," Francona said. "Got him back healthy and his progession has continued to be what you would like. He got healthy, then he started competing. He gets to Triple-A, he's throwing 93-94 with good changeup, a breaking ball and a slider. I think the biggest question we had was, 'Hey, if the start doesn't go well, do we set him back?' Everybody in player development said, 'No.' It will be exciting to watch. It's not going to define his career, whatever happens on Tuesday. But it also gives us a taste of a part of the future, which is kind of exciting."

Plesac has never spent a full season at any level of the minor leagues, showing rapid development thoughout his career. The righty started the season in Akron before being called up to Columbus earlier this month.

Between the two stops, Plesac has thown 57.1 innings in nine starts while posting a 1.41 ERA. He has a 57-8 strikeout to walk ratio while holding hitters to a .185 average against.

The injuries to Corey Kluber and Clevinger have opened the door for guys like Plesac to contrubute at the big league level.

Tuesday night at Fenway will be no walk in the park for someone making thier major league debut but as Francona said before Sunday's game against the Tampa Bay Rays, it will be exciting to see what the kid can bring while getting a little sneak peak into the future.