Civale asks to start, rewards club with win

Right-hander tosses six scoreless, allows just three hits vs. Rangers

October 4th, 2021

ARLINGTON -- This was why asked for one more start.

Cleveland had been utilizing a six-man rotation after Shane Bieber returned to the big league roster more than a week ago, and Sunday afternoon was Cal Quantrill’s turn to get the ball.

Instead, Civale expressed that he wanted to make another start, and because he’d missed significant time this season due to a middle finger sprain and has struggled since his return, Cleveland thought it was a good idea. As it turns out, it was.

Civale (12-5) made his last trip to the rubber count, allowing just three hits in six scoreless frames in the club's 6-0 victory over the Rangers at Globe Life Field in the final game of the season.

“He's pretty good,” acting manager DeMarlo Hale said. “Glad that he had that kind of effort as he goes into the offseason healthy. And I think there's a good feeling that what he went through this year is behind him.”

Cleveland did its best to put together its ninth consecutive winning season, but it came up just short, finishing the year with its first losing record (80-82) since 2012. But the team was left with a handful of reasons to be hopeful for 2022.

The rotation is one of the biggest bright spots of this young roster, and the version Civale that showed up for the finale is exactly the type of hurler the team will need to get back into contention next year. Before he suffered the finger sprain in late June, Civale went 10-2 with a 3.32 ERA in 15 starts, showing off just how much of an impact his complete overhaul of his mechanics made over the offseason.

“I think there’s a lot of positives from that change, and there’s definitely some room to improve and build on,” Civale said. “I think this offseason becomes training instead of learning. ... It’s a change I’m very glad that I made.”

This summer, Civale was forced to put everything on hold. He had to take more than two months off to address his finger sprain, pushing his return to the Majors back to Sept. 7. And the 26-year-old righty couldn’t help but wonder what this year could’ve looked like if the freak injury had never occurred.

“I think that’s natural for anyone that goes through an injury to think what could’ve been," Civale said. "But at the end of the day, there’s nothing I could’ve changed. From that moment on, it was just getting back onto the field and trying to get back on the field for the guys in this clubhouse. You can play the what-if game for a lot of things in life. If you’re doing that, you’re missing out on what’s happening right in front of you.”

Since Civale's return, he didn’t resemble the same hurler he was at the beginning of the year, going 1-3 with a 7.40 ERA in five starts entering Sunday. That’s what prompted him to ask for one more outing.

Ending the season after a strong outing leaves a much better taste in the mouth over the long months of the winter. Civale had given up 11 runs in his previous seven frames, which played a big role in the hurler asking for the chance to make one more start. He took advantage of the opportunity, leaned on his curveball more than he usually does in starts and effortlessly mixed in all six of his pitches. He finished with four strikeouts and one walk.

It was an outing that served as a reminder of the pitcher Civale was earlier in the season -- one he could easily be again in 2022.

“Any time you can finish a season like that, it’s definitely nice, especially when you go through stuff in the middle,” Civale said. “I know my last start of the last two seasons have probably been some of my worst, so it’s nice to flip the script on that and go into the offseason with that memory to build on that instead of trying to fix something.”