CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) – The questions surrounding the fifth spot in the Indians’ rotation are anything but resolved, but Cleveland’s plan for how they will approach the spot’s next turn was revealed on Wednesday.
Mike Clevinger will start Saturday’s game against the Minnesota Twins, manager Terry Francona announced prior to Wednesday’s matchup against the Houston Astros. However, the team still wants the rookie right-hander to approach the outing like some of his recent bullpen appearances.
“Go out at 4 o’clock, do your stuff with the relievers, your throwing, then when the game starts just prepare it like you’re coming into a normal game, like if it’s the fifth inning,” Francona said the club told Clevinger. “We want to keep him on one routine.”
Clevinger started on Monday for Cleveland but lasted just 1 2/3 before the Indians unlocked the revolving door in their bullpen during the series-opening loss to the Astros.
The team had planned to use a bullpen day-like approach, but Clevinger’s recent role in the bullpen prevented the young righty from going far beyond the 40-pitch threshold.
The Indians will be able to stretch him out a bit longer on Saturday.
“That’s part of the reason why we want to give the guys some clarity,” Francona said. “Because now Clev can go throw a bullpen today, which helps also. There would be certainly more wiggle room as far as comfort in allowing him to pitch.”
Clevinger will be backed by Josh Tomlin, who was originally unseated in the club’s starting rotation after a tough month of August (11.48 ERA in six starts).
Tomlin will be available out of the bullpen to keep him in line with the fifth spot, allowing them the flexibility to reinsert the righty back in the starting five if they so choose.
“Depending on how he’s used, if he’s not, we’ll throw a side at some point,” Francona said. “Because we also want to keep him in line for that next start. How we get there, depending on some of the games, will dictate what he does.”
Following the conclusion of the four-game series vs. the Astros, Cleveland will open up a three-game series in Minneapolis on Friday.
Behind the plate: Yan Gomes (DL, shoulder separation) was cleared to catch on his Minor League rehab assignment by the Indians’ medical staff and was scheduled to play five innings behind the plate with Triple-A Columbus on Wednesday.
Gomes is also expected to catch five innings for the Clippers on Thursday. He is eligible to be activated from the 60-day disabled list on Sept. 16.
“He had such a good day throwing to the bases that the medical people were fine with him catching tonight,” Francona said. “He did really well yesterday. For them to allow him, they just didn’t see any reason to not let him do it.”