CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) – Mike Clevinger may be listed as Monday’s starter for Cleveland, but the Indians hurler won’t be approaching the opener of the four-game set vs. Houston like every other start he has made over his career.
The 25-year-old rookie, who has been pitching out of the Tribe’s bullpen in recent weeks, will be on a limited pitch count when he faces the Astros at Progressive Field.
After Clevinger, the Indians plan on mixing and matching their pitching on Monday in something that might resemble a bullpen day.
“We’re not going to let him get real deep, just because he’s been in the bullpen and I think we all view, at this time of the year, that he has a chance to help us in the bullpen,” manager Terry Francona said.
Since being made available in relief, Clevinger has appeared in five games, working 9 1/3 frames, allowing four runs on seven hits, walking three and striking out 12.
The transition has had its challenges, but the righty feels like he’s settling into a good rhythm.
“It was the toughest adjustment,” Clevinger said. “It wasn’t really the mental part, it was the physical, ‘How am I going to feel my best every time I go to get hot?’ I think I’m kind of getting a grasp on that the more time I spend out there.”
Because of the recent work Clevinger has put into the transfer, the Indians won’t mess much with his developing routine. For that reason, the righty will not warm up for Monday’s game as he would if he was back in the starting rotation.
“[Pitching coach Mickey Callaway] already talked to him about not going out half an hour early, long-tossing,” Francona said. “We want to keep him on his bullpen routine.”
An opening in the Tribe’s rotation developed after Cleveland decided to skip Josh Tomlin’s start.
Tomlin posted an 11.48 ERA in the month of August, and the team opted to give the righty a few down days to help him reset. Despite the struggles, Francona still believes the long-term goal is to get Tomlin’s issues ironed out and insert him back in the rotation at some point.
Whether that happens before the end of the season is still up in the air.
“I think that’s the hope,” Francona said. “We don’t want to run from him. That’s not ever the idea. And he’s going to be available tomorrow in the bullpen. Also want to see how he throws the ball, too, and try to balance what’s in his best interest and also our ball club and try to mesh it together like we always do.”
The Indians could have conceivably bumped Corey Kluber up to Monday due to last Thursday’s off day, but keeping the club’s ace slotted into Tuesday’s start will allow him to face both Detroit and Kansas City in key series later this month.