The Indians banished right-handers Mike Clevinger and Zach Plesac to their alternate site a week ago after the two broke coronavirus protocols on the road. Clevinger and Plesac have each thrown five-inning sim games over the past couple days as they hope to work their way back, per Zack Meisel of The Athletic.
The Indians will be able to recall either or both of the beleaguered hurlers Monday, though it’s anyone’s guess if that will happen. If it does, there’s a possibility it will cause friction in Cleveland’s locker room. Back when Clevinger and Plesac were caught, some Indians reportedly considered opting out if they immediately rejoined the team, while right-hander Adam Plutko publicly expressed his displeasure with his rotation mates.
Speaking Friday regarding Clevinger and Plesac, president Chris Antonetti said (full statement here, via Meisel), “The team’s readiness to accept them back into the environment is something that we’ll consider.” At the same time, though, Antonetti noted the Indians’ focus is on “how to build the best team and how do we have the best group of guys at the major league level that give us the best chance to win and win a World Series?” He went on to express hope that Clevinger and Plesac have spent the past week “reflecting” on their mistakes and focusing on how to “earn the trust back of the team.”
Looking solely at on-field impact, it’s hard to argue the Indians aren’t a better team with Clevinger and Plesac in the mix. Clevinger has largely offered front-line production since he broke out in 2017, while Plesac – after a decent but unspectacular rookie year – dominated in three starts and 21 innings this season before the Indians demoted him. Among all pitchers who have thrown at least 20 frames, Plesac ranks first in K/BB ratio (12.00), third in BB/9 (0.86) and fourth in ERA (1.29).
Considering Shane Bieber’s status as the best pitcher in the American League and the emergence of Aaron Civale, the contending Indians may be tempted to recall Clevinger and Plesac in hopes of building a super-rotation and making a World Series run. They’re a couple days away from having that option. In the meantime, Triston McKenzie will fill out the Indians’ starting staff after Bieber, Civale, Carlos Carrasco and Plutko, who owns a 6.88 ERA for the season after the Tigers shelled him Friday.