Cleveland Indians will be without Mike Clevinger for a while

(Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /

Cleveland Indians starter Mike Clevinger will miss a lot more time than originally thought, being out at least 6-8 weeks with an upper back injury.

The Cleveland Indians were dealt some harsh news today as it has been announced that starting pitcher Mike Clevinger has been placed on the 10-day Injury List. Making things even grimmer is the fact that he will likely miss at least 6-8 weeks with the upper back injury he suffered during his start on Sunday against the Toronto Blue Jays.

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Clevinger was off to one of the best starts in baseball before being removed from Sunday’s game with the injury. He had yet to allow a run in his two starts and struck out at least 10 batters in each start. In fact, he’s just the fifth pitcher since at least 1908 to strike out 10 or more batters and allow one hit or less in back-to-back starts. The other four are Max Scherzer, Chris Sale, R.A. Dickey, and Randy Johnson.

The injury will mean the Tribe will be without Clevinger’s services til at least June and potentially longer depending on how long a rehab he’ll need once he does “pick up a ball.” One would think this wouldn’t pose a huge problem given how historically great the Tribe rotation is. However, depth is not something they have a lot of at the moment, unfortunately.

Adam Plutko would have been next in line, but he is currently hurt and on the minor league injury list. Danny Salazar, of course, is on the 60-day injury list so he’s no help at the moment. The Tribe does have three other starting pitchers on the 40-man roster in Cody Anderon, Chih-Wei Hu, and Jefry Rodriguez. However, the first two are being stretched out after being hurt the last two years (Anderson) or being used out of the bullpen (Hu).

Rodriguez has some big league experience and did go six innings in his first start with the Columbus Clippers so he’s probably the most likely player to get a look but that’s not much depth. Maybe the Indians look at a non-roster guy like Asher Wojciechowski who has some big league experience. However, that would require a 40-man roster move, which the Tribe may not be ready to do just yet, especially with Carlos Gonzalez looking at coming up soon potentially.

The Indians will need to make some decision by Saturday when they need a fifth starter. In the meantime, Nick Wittgren was called up to replace Clevinger and give the club an extra pen arm. Perhaps the Indians go with a bullpen day on Saturday and wait till the following weekend to make a move for a starting pitcher.

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The good news is that Trevor Bauer, Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, and Shane Bieber still make the best rotation in baseball. The question is who will they get to pitch every fifth day and can they eat enough innings to not drain an already weak bullpen…