CLEVELAND -- The Indians have under two weeks to iron out their plan for their starting rotation. They could use a six-man rotation to start the season, or they may choose to move either Zach Plesac, Aaron Civale or Adam Plutko into the bullpen. No matter what they decide, Civale
CLEVELAND -- The Indians have under two weeks to iron out their plan for their starting rotation. They could use a six-man rotation to start the season, or they may choose to move either Zach Plesac, Aaron Civale or Adam Plutko into the bullpen. No matter what they decide, Civale did his best to show he's ready to be among the starting five.
In his first intrasquad outing on Sunday night, Civale tossed six innings, allowing two runs on eight hits with two walks and eight strikeouts. The right-hander threw just under 100 pitches in the longest outing by a Tribe starter since their scrimmages began on Thursday.
“For him to get through six innings, close to 100 pitches,” said manager Terry Francona. “I thought that in itself, without laboring, pitching like a veteran, we were really pleased with his performance.”
• Notes: Lindor to hit third; Luplow (back) to rest
Teams are just over one week into their full-squad workouts, but that doesn’t mean pitchers haven’t been working over the last three-and-a-half months to be prepared for the resumption of baseball. When the team returned to Cleveland, Francona praised the work that his young hurlers like Plesac and Civale did on their own to keep their arms built up.
Plesac drove to multiple states to find facilities where he could continue his workouts, while Civale paired up with reliever Adam Cimber in Arizona to go throw in a local park before the Indians’ Spring Training facility reopened in May.
“We had to get creative, as I’m sure plenty of baseball players had to do,” Civale said. “We didn’t have access to a mound, a lot of facilities were closed, so we just were throwing at the park and there was a little slope off to the side and we used that [as a mound] for the time being. Made the most of it. We had to do what we had to do.”
On May 19, Civale said he threw his first five-inning simulated game in Goodyear, Ariz., and has maintained that workload ever since. The 25-year-old is preparing for his sophomore campaign after a stellar rookie season in which he posted a 2.34 ERA in 10 starts and didn’t allow more than three earned runs until his final outing of the year. Though he was called up to make a spot start in June, he earned his way into a permanent role in August after Trevor Bauer was traded. Now, he’ll look to keep that role in 2020.
The Indians have Shane Bieber, Mike Clevinger and Carlos Carrasco at the top of their rotation. That leaves Plesac, Civale, Plutko, Logan Allen, Jefry Rodriguez and Scott Moss as options for the final two spots, though the first three are at the top of the pecking order. Should the Tribe start the season with a six-man rotation while the rosters are expanded to 30 spots, the decision is simple: tacking the trio on to the end of a solid top half of the rotation. But if the club opens with a five-man rotation, one of the three -- Plesac, Civale or Plutko -- would likely move to the bullpen.
Plesac and Plutko have not yet made their Summer Camp intrasquad scrimmage debuts. Their starts will help determine whose nose may be an inch or two ahead of the others in this heated foot race. Francona has been clear that one outing during camp isn’t going to make or break a player, but Civale’s standout 2019, paired with his work ethic while baseball was suspended and his strong first scrimmage outing, have the young right-hander in a good spot to be one of the five starters the Tribe decides to carry.
“He’s always good, man,” Cimber said. “He’s fun to watch. He’s got everything. You name it, he can throw it. He can make it move whatever way he wants. It’s pretty cool to watch and I got to catch him a few times -- a lot -- during quarantine time. Being behind it on the other side of the ball, you can watch it on TV and see it move, but when you’re actually catching him, it’s not fun to catch. He can make it move anywhere he wants.”
Mandy Bell covers the Indians for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter at @MandyBell02.