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In 2018, Mike Clevinger will look to build on his solid 2017

2017 in Review: Mike Clevinger

MLB: Cleveland Indians at San Francisco Giants Lance Iversen-USA TODAY Sports

There was a ton of good in Mike Clevinger’s 2017 season.

Usually, a pitcher with a 3.11 ERA, 2.2 fWAR and 10.1 K/9 is unquestionably in your playoff rotation. But the Indians had better options. Or, more accurately, Terry Francona thought the Indians had better options.

Clevinger’s 4.44 walks per 9 innings may have scared the team, and his xFIP slightly north of 4 might have helped nudge them, but it’s hard to love having those kind of walk numbers sitting in your bullpen.

But from June 1 to July 21, Clevinger had the 7th best ERA in the Major Leagues, at 2.43 (his teammate was first with an otherworldly 1.56, and with the exception of Mike Fiers, 5 of the other 6 are all #superstars).

On July 21, Clevinger was allowing only 5.6 hits per 9 innings, the best mark in baseball of any pitcher who had started more than 1 game (he had started twelve).

And if you remove his June 6 start in Coors Field, he had a six-start stretch where batters were slugging .259 off of him.

Things went slightly south after that day in July when everybody scrambled to tweet his amazing numbers. From July 25 to September 19 when he was inexplicably moved to the bullpen, he pitched 52 innings in which he struck out 60. There were some walks, of course: 25 of them, to be specific, but .245/.333/.398 doesn’t usually earn a pitcher a demotion. A .323 BABiP wasn’t exactly helping him, either.

The move to the bullpen, propagandized as a “promotion” to use him as a “weapon” in the newly-relieverized MLB Postseason didn’t materialize in October. He was used for just an inning and a third, and he walked 4 and gave up 3 runs (2 earned).

Presumably, he will be back in the Indians 2018 rotation straight out of Spring Training. I personally believe that he’s ready to take a huge step forward, but hopefully the loss of his pitching coach doesn’t derail that.

But it will be hard for him to improve on the 6.8 hits per 9 innings that he surrendered in 2017. Only Corey Kluber was better than that among full-time American League pitchers.