It is not at all a stretch to say that Mike Clevinger of the Cleveland Indians has been one of the more underrated pitchers in baseball. The casual fan might not even be fully aware of who he is and that is understandable. In a similar fashion to the way Bryce Harper overshadowed Anthony Rendon on the Nationals for many seasons, Clevinger was overshadowed by his excellent rotation counterparts in Cleveland.
Still, Clevinger is an excellent starting pitcher in his own right and honestly might be the best pitcher out of the group of Corey Kluber (who again is being linked to the Dodgers in rumors), Carlos Carrasco, Shane Bieber, and formerly Trevor Bauer.
By the Numbers
By taking one look at Mike Clevinger’s profile on Baseball Savant, you will see exactly why he is so good. He throws the ball hard (83rd percentile velocity) and limits hard contact — a fantastic recipe for an ace. In 2019, he allowed a 91st percentile exit velocity and 92nd percentile xwOBA, while supplying a 94th percentile strikeout percentage.
In 2019, Clevinger made just 21 starts, striking out 169 batters in 126 innings. Baseball Prospectus’s DRA- was also very supportive of his craft as he ended with a 68.2 mark, which ranked him 23rd in baseball amongst pitchers who tossed a minimum of 100 innings last season.
Over the last few seasons, Clevinger has actually been one of the best pitchers in baseball. Despite throwing fewer innings than everyone except Luis Severino above him, he ranks 17th in WAR since 2017 amongst pitchers. Since 2018, he ranks 11th in WAR and an amazing 6th in ERA behind some of the biggest names in the game. He’s good.
Here is how filthy Clevinger is, courtesy of Rob Friedman/Pitching Ninja:
Mike Clevinger, Filthy 78mph Curveball…and Sword. ??? pic.twitter.com/ftqYWFhXEp
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) July 17, 2019
All of this analysis of Clevinger and how good he is would be for nothing if he was not available for trade. However, it appears that he might be as the Indians shop Corey Kluber and Francisco Lindor, too.
To the Naked Eye
Mike Clevinger just looks good and that is because he is. He has the tools to be an ace for the Dodgers for years to come and it appears now is the time to strike if the Dodgers want to make this a reality. With the Cleveland Indians reportedly looking to sell, Clevinger could be had. At just 28, Clevinger will not be a free agent until 2023.