Mike Clevinger is on the mound tonight for the Cleveland Indians. The Indians haven’t won when he starts in over a month.
Clevinger is sporting a 3.48 ERA in 139.2 innings of work and has struck out 139 batters entering tonight. The problem is that the Indians haven’t won with him on the mound since July 1.
To clarify, this is not a case for pitcher wins being important. In Clevinger’s last five starts, all Indians losses, the offense has combined to score a total of 14 runs. They scored 15 runs on July 1 alone, the last time the Indians won when Clevinger started.
The lack of run support is out of Clevinger’s control. But what he can do is keep his team in the game longer than he has at points this season. Clevinger has made 22 starts this season. In those he has allowed a combined 11 runs in the first inning and 11 runs in the third inning. These are his highest totals for any inning this season.
This was the case in his last start when he had already allowed three runs through the first three innings. The same was true on July 14 when the Yankees held a 3-0 lead after one.
These run totals in the first and third inning are not terrible by any means. But they do stand out as the offense may be playing from behind more often with Clevinger on the mound.
Clevinger has also walked 12 batters in the first inning of his starts this season, the highest total of any inning. Is it a result of being too pumped up? I am not sure. But what I do know is that this hurts Clevinger’s chances of receiving a postseason start. If he were to start in the ALCS or World Series, he would be on an extremely short leash.
There is still nearly two months of the season left for Clevinger to correct his early-game struggles. Let’s see if he can begin to improve on this against a non-contender like the Twins. Perhaps that will inspire the offense as well.