Clevinger 'leads Reds to barrel,' falters with two strikes

Righty throws too many pitches down middle in loss

Alex Hooper
July 09, 2018 - 11:46 pm
Jul 9, 2018; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Mike Clevinger (52) throws a pitch during the second inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Progressive Field.

© Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports


Cleveland, OH (92.3 The Fan) – Mike Clevinger’s focus since breaking into the Major Leagues full-time has been to attack hitters early in the count, something at which he has thrived. On Monday, the righty’s issue was not getting ahead of hitters, rather putting them away.

Although, to say that a pitcher who struck out a career-high tying 11 hitters had a hard time putting batters away may seem counterintuitive. It was just that those he did not punch out hit Clevinger, and hit him hard.

The 27-year-old allowed seven hits against the Cincinnati Reds in a 7-5 loss, carrying an average 100.2 mph exit velocity. Of the seven hits allowed by Clevinger, four scored runs, and three of those four came on two-ball counts.

“They are really hot right now, I don’t want to downplay what they’re doing over there, but it was almost like I was leading them to their barrel,” he said. “It was almost like, ‘Here’s the good one, here’s the good one, then here’s the terrible one.’ That’s kind of how the night went. They took advantage of every ball I threw over the middle of the plate.”

The problem with that was the amount of pitches Clevinger threw over the plate. Essentially every pitch the Reds put in play was right down the middle, as Cincinnati went 7-for-13 on balls in play.

What stood out to Clevinger was a 4th inning double to Reds designated hitter Jesse Winker, a 1-2 slider that hung for the lefty to smoke 104.5 mph to right field and score Scooter Gennett. It hurt even more a batter later when catcher Tucker Barnhart singled Gennett across.

“Made good pitches, but it seemed like every single one was under a magnifying glass, every miss,” the righty added. “That inconsistency can’t happen.”

Things would have been even worse for Clevinger and the Indians if not for a diving grab by Tyler Naquin in the 1st inning, as Scott Schebler was on the move with two outs and would have scored. Greg Allen also made a leaping play, crashing into the wall in center field in the 2nd inning that stopped Barnhart from scoring.

“I’m just grateful it’s always when I’m on the mound, it seems like,” Clevinger said. “I don’t want that to get overlooked. They play so hard behind me is seems like, every time I’m out there and I always appreciate that. Without them, with whatever punch-outs, I would have had six or seven earned runs if they weren’t going all out for me.”

Surrendering so many hard-hit balls is not common for Clevinger in 2018, who came into the game with the 18th-lowest average exit velocity in baseball among pitchers with 200 batters faced. His .307 xwOBA is the 46th-best quality-of-contact against of 160 pitchers with 200 batters faced.