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Week in Transactions: Indians call up Mike Clevinger

A review of the Cleveland Indians' moves this past week.

Cleveland Indians v Cincinnati Reds
Mike Clevinger
Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images

May 17

Activated RF Lonnie Chisenhall from the Bereavement List

Optioned RHP Cody Anderson to Columbus (AAA)

May 18

Recalled RHP Mike Clevinger from Columbus (AAA)

Optioned CF Tyler Naquin to Columbus (AAA)

The May 17-18 transactions are related, so I'll cover them both here.

Cody Anderson had (at least until last night) been a major weak spot in the rotation, so the Indians decided to swap him out with Mike Clevinger, at least until Carlos Carrasco returned from the Disabled List. Anderson's spot in the rotation would have come up in the Boston series, so rather than have Clevinger pitch last weekend they bumped everyone else back a day so that he'd make his MLB debut against the less-scary Cincinnati Reds instead.

Clevinger has been a major developmental coup for the Indians; they got him from the LA Angels for Vinnie Pestano in 2014, made some tweaks to his delivery, and now have themselves a pitcher who has the upside of a the front-of-the-rotation starter. As we've seen, he's still rough around the edges, but the stuff is most certainly there.

To make room for Clevinger on the 25-man roster, the Indians sent down Tyler Naquin. If you just look at Naquin's batting line the move doesn't make that much sense; the rookie outfielder is hitting .317/.338/.413, well beyond the expectations of even the most optimistic of fans heading into the season. But the positives on offense have been offset by negatives on defense, and with Jose Ramirez having so much success at the plate, the Indians went with Michael Martinez, who is by trade a middle infielder, over Naquin.

Rajai Davis' hot streak has retroactively made the move look better, but I do think that as long as Jose Ramirez is a full-time outfielder, there really wasn't that many at-bats available for Naquin if he plays the fourth outfielder/pinch runner role, and with his defensive struggles, you couldn't justify him sharing time equally with Davis. There is a bit of an irony that goes with being a prospect; your team wants you to get regular playing time, so often that means being sent to the minors even though you could be a valuable player off the bench.

May 19

Promoted RHP Cole Sulser from Lynchburg (A) to Akron (AA)

Demoted RHP Antonio Romero from Akron (AA) to Lynchburg (A)

May 20

AAA: Placed RHP Felipe Paulino on the Temporary Inactive List

Promoted RHP Jared Robinson from Lake County (A-) to Lynchburg (A)

Demoted OF Bobby Ison from Columbus (AAA) to Lake County (A-)

May 21

Demoted LHP Nick Maronde from Columbus (AAA) to Akron (AA)

Promoted RHP Ben Heller from Akron (AA) to Columbus (AAA)

Heller dominated AA, and I'm not exaggerating one bit. His line: 16.1 IP, 0.55 ERA, 3 H, 23 SO, 5 BB. He's on track to be just the second player from Olivet Nazarene College to make the majors, and it could happen as soon as this year.

May 22

Recalled RHP Austin Adams from Columbus (AAA)

Optioned LHP Kyle Crockett to Columbus (AAA)

Crockett was being used as LOOGy, and wasn't very successful, so the Indians for the time being are going with an all right-handed bullpen. Austin Adams, who knew I-71 very well a year ago, gets his first MLB experience of 2016.

May 23

Recalled RHP Cody Anderson from Columbus (AAA) - 26th Man

Recalled LHP Ryan Merritt from Columbus (AAA)

Placed RHP Joba Chamberlain on the 15-day Disabled List (left intercostal)

Even though Anderson was optioned to Columbus just five days ago, he was eligible to be recalled because he was the "26th man" for the doubleheader. He'll need to go back to Columbus today, and won't be eligible for recall until five more days have passed, which coincidentally (or not) would be the next time he's in line to start.

With Chamberlain on the shelf, the Indians called up Merritt in case they needed a long reliever in yesterday's doubleheader. Both Clevinger and Anderson were the scheduled starters, so it did make sense to have an extra starter available in case things went horribly wrong. Clevinger did get rocked, but did pitch five innings, and Anderson pitched seven strong innings, so Merritt wasn't needed. I would assume he'll be sent back to Columbus today, and a reliever (probably Shawn Armstrong) will be recalled in his place.

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May 22 2016

Carlos Carrasco is nearing a return to the rotation, and the Indians may only need one more start from either Clevinger or Anderson; both pitched in yesterday's doubleheader, and Anderson will be eligible to be recalled the next time that spot comes up again. Alternatively, the Indians could also skip the spot in the rotation, as there's an off day this Thursday, if Carrasco will be ready within another 8-9 days. But that's probably pushing it, as Carrasco's first official rehab start will be this coming Saturday in Lake County (and only three innings). So I think the Indians will use the off day to push everyone back, choose between Clevinger and Anderson for Sunday's start, and go from there.