The White Sox placed starter Mike Clevinger on the 15-day injured list, retroactive to June 15, due to biceps inflammation. Jesse Scholtens was recalled from Triple-A Charlotte to replace him on the MLB roster.
Clevinger came out of Wednesday’s start once the biceps pain first developed. The right-hander acknowledged the injury “kind of scared” him at first, but he told reporters last night an MRI didn’t reveal any structural damage in his elbow or shoulder (via Daryl Van Schouwen of the Chicago Sun-Times). While the inflammation is still enough to keep him out for at least a few weeks, that everything is structurally intact offers hope he’ll avoid a long-term absence.
The Sox signed Clevinger to a one-year, $12MM free agent deal last offseason. They were hoping he’d more closely resemble the upper mid-rotation form he’d shown in Cleveland, but Clevinger has turned in similar back-of-the-rotation results as he had with San Diego last year. His 3.88 ERA over 12 starts belies a below-average 19.3% strikeout rate and slightly elevated 9.5% walk percentage. This season’s 9.2% swinging strike rate is the lowest of his career.
While that’s not the most exciting production, there’s value in stable back-of-the-rotation innings. That’s particularly true for a Chicago team with questionable rotation depth. The Sox had remarkably avoided an injury to any of their top five starters until now, but sixth starter Davis Martin is down for the year with Tommy John surgery.
Scholtens could be the top depth option. Manager Pedro Grifol said this evening he’s tentatively penciled in for Monday’s start against the Rangers while leaving open the possibility of deploying him out of the bullpen this weekend instead (Van Schouwen link). Scholtens made a spot start earlier this season. He’s pitched nine times with Charlotte, posting a 4.44 ERA in 46 2/3 innings.
How quickly Clevinger returns could be relevant to the trade market. The 30-40 White Sox are reluctant to deal players under club control beyond 2023. Clevinger, though, is more or less a rental. His contract contains a $12MM mutual option for next season, though those are almost always bought out by one side. He’s likely to collect a $4MM buyout and hit free agency at year’s end. If Clevinger is back on the diamond and the Sox haven’t closed the gap in a still winnable AL Central, he’d be a straightforward trade candidate.