A little over two months since his last start, Mike Clevinger will make his return to the Cleveland Indians rotation when they head to Texas next Monday.
These two tweets were six minutes apart.
Mike Clevinger said he feels ready to rejoin the Indians’ rotation after his second rehab start last night. He’s just waiting to get the go-ahead from Tito and the training staff.— Mandy Bell (@MandyBell02) June 12, 2019
Mike Clevinger will start Monday’s game in Texas.— Mandy Bell (@MandyBell02) June 12, 2019
Welcome back, Sunshine.
A darkhorse for the AL Cy Young heading into the season, Clevinger pitched two shutout games against the White Sox and Blue Jays to start his 2019 campaign. He struck out 22 batters in those two starts, and allowed a combined two hits and four walks. By all measures, Clevinger looked like he was ready to take the next step and emerge as one of baseball’s best pitchers.
Unfortunately, he left that second start against the Blue Jays after just five dominant innings with what was initially reported as some back tightness. No big deal, he’ll take a few days off and be pitching again in no time, right? Then the news spiraled and suddenly he had a strained terres major in his upper back and wouldn’t pick up a baseball for weeks.
The 27-year-old opted to avoid surgery for the injury, and instead took the rest and rehabbing route, which eventually culminated in his two minor-league rehab starts in which he struck out nine batters in 7.1 innings.
Oh, and he hit 99 mph on the gun in Akron.
If he can do that in the majors, he’ll make good on the lofty expectations he put on himself shortly after he was sent to the 60-day IL. On April 29, he told The Athletic’s Zack Meisel that he’ll be “coming back as a bigger and better horse,” with the goal of hitting 100 mph upon his return.
Clevinger’s return will also hopefully signal the return of the pitching staff’s “king of the hill” trophies and a heaping helping of confidence moving forward.