JUNE 23: Civale has been diagnosed with a sprained right middle finger, Mandy Bell of MLB.com was among those to relay. He’ll be shut down from throwing for the next week or two and isn’t expected to return to the field for four-to-five weeks.
JUNE 22: Indians right-hander Aaron Civale left last night’s start with an injury to his right middle finger, and it seems it’ll keep him out of action for a while. Manager Terry Francona told reporters (including Zack Meisel of the Athletic) Civale will meet with a hand specialist tomorrow. The club will know more specifics about his condition then, but Francona added they’re “prepared that he’s going to miss some time.”
An extended absence for Civale is a tough blow to a Cleveland staff already without Shane Bieber and Zach Plesac. Civale has tossed an MLB-leading 97 2/3 innings this year and been quite effective. The 26-year-old has a 3.32 ERA/4.31 SIERA. Civale doesn’t miss many bats (19.8% strikeout rate) but he also rarely hands out free passes (6.0% walk percentage) and does a decent job of keeping the ball on the ground (45.3% grounder rate).
At 40-30, Cleveland has stayed in close contention in both the American League Central and Wild Card races. That’s largely been on the strength of that top half of the rotation, though. Bieber, Plesac and Civale have all been better than average at keeping runs off the board, but there’s been little in the way of reliability behind that now-injured trio. Cal Quantrill has been good when called upon but worked mostly out of the bullpen this year. The rest of Cleveland’s depth starters (Triston McKenzie, Sam Hentges, Logan Allen, Jean Mejia and Eli Morgan) have struggled.
It remains to be seen if the Indians can weather this series of injuries to their top pitchers and stay in contention. In addition to their now-exclusively unproven group of starters, the Cleveland lineup has been below-average all season. To their credit, Indians relievers have been quite good, helping them to a 12-7 record in one-run ballgames. They’ll need continued excellence from the bullpen (and perhaps some unexpected contributions from their young starters and/or the bottom of the order) to stick with the White Sox, who lead the division by two games.