Clevinger at a loss to explain recent issues

Tribe relying on righty, rest of rotation with Tomlin on DL

Clevinger at a loss to explain recent issues

BOSTON -- Mike Clevinger did not have much to say after his outing against the Red Sox on Monday night. Really, there was not much to analyze. The Indians' starter could not find the strike zone and endured a rough day at the office, exiting his first Fenway Park experience after only three-plus innings.

"There's bad times and good times," Clevinger said after the 6-2 loss to the Red Sox. "This is a really good team. We'll be just fine."

That is certainly Cleveland's hope when it comes to its rotation.

Over the past month, and again in the hours leading up to Monday's non-waiver Trade Deadline, the Indians were linked to starters Sonny Gray, Yu Darvish and Lance Lynn in various reports. The A's traded Gray to the Yankees, the Rangers shipped Darvish to the Dodgers and Lynn stayed put with the Cardinals. Cleveland, meanwhile, opted to stand pat with its starting staff.

Much of Cleveland's decision was based on the recent return of Danny Salazar, who looked brilliant in his two starts off the disabled list. The rotation as a whole had pitched well enough of late to convince the Tribe to run with a six-man staff, but that approach hit a snag on Monday, when Josh Tomlin was placed on the 10-day DL with a left hamstring strain, with an MRI exam scheduled for Tuesday.

With no impact starter acquired, the onus is now on Clevinger and the rest of the staff.

"To see Danny come out," Indians president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti said, "and make two really good starts, gave us confidence in our rotation moving forward. And so, it maybe changed the shape [of our approach] and the types of guys that we looked at on the market."

The priority became fortifying the bullpen, which the Indians addressed by trading for sidearmer Joe Smith, who gives manager Terry Francona another late-inning option. A few hours after that transaction came to fruition, Cleveland's bullpen was asked to cover five innings after Clevinger's dud against Boston.

Hard-throwing righty Zach McAllister picked up the most slack, turning in three shutout innings to help keep the game from spiraling out of control from a pitching standpoint. McAllister said he has seen enough of Clevinger this season to be convinced that the righty -- in his second big league season -- can quickly turn the page and correct the issues.

"You can definitely see how much he's matured this year," McAllister said. "That's part of growing up, especially in the big leagues, too. It's not always easy. He was on a hot streak, throwing great, and he's hit a little rough patch."

Over his past two turns, Clevinger has allowed 11 runs (10 earned) with nearly as many walks (six) as strikeouts (seven) in 7 1/3 innings combined. The starter has thrown just 55-percent strikes and opposing batters have hit at a .421 (16-for-38) clip against him in that small sample. That includes five runs yielded on seven hits with four walks in Monday's forgettable showing.

In the six prior outings, though, Clevinger went 3-0 with a 1.36 ERA and 35 strikeouts in 33 frames.

"He works hard and he's prepared every time he takes the ball," McAllister said. "Hopefully, he'll get back out there his next time and be ready to go."

Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.