DENVER -- A trio of off-days in a short period of time has given the Indians some flexibility with their pitching staff, contributing to the decision to send starter Mike Clevinger to Triple-A Columbus on Wednesday morning.Prior to Cleveland's game against the Rockies, Clevinger was optioned to Columbus and lefty
DENVER -- A trio of off-days in a short period of time has given the Indians some flexibility with their pitching staff, contributing to the decision to send starter Mike Clevinger to Triple-A Columbus on Wednesday morning.
Prior to Cleveland's game against the Rockies, Clevinger was optioned to Columbus and lefty reliever Kyle Crockett was recalled from the same affiliate. Crockett's arrival gives manager Terry Francona three lefties (joining Andrew Miller and Boone Logan) in an eight-man bullpen.
Thanks to three off-days in an eight-day span, the Indians do not require a fifth starter until June 17, when the Twins host the Tribe for a doubleheader. Cleveland had an off-day on Monday, and the club has one coming on Thursday as well as next Monday. That gives the team the ability to use Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, Josh Tomlin and Trevor Bauer for the next eight games.
"We talked to him last night," said Francona, referring to Clevinger. "He knows he's going to start one of those games in Minnesota -- the doubleheader. So he'll pitch once in-between in Columbus, and we'll figure out how much he should pitch. We talked to him last night about making sure he attacks the zone like he can."
Clevinger will be eligible to be recalled for the June 17 games, and it's possible that righty Danny Salazar (10-day disabled list with right shoulder soreness) might be ready to be activated for that twin bill as well.
"We haven't ruled that out, but also, we need Danny for now, for later," Francona said. "So for one game, I think we want to make sure that he's raring to go. And if he is, good."
Clevinger (2-3, 4.09 ERA in seven games with Cleveland) started on Tuesday and allowed five runs on four hits in four innings against the Rockies.
Crockett, 25, has spent the entire season with Triple-A Columbus, posting a 1.85 ERA in 21 appearances (24 1/3 innings) and holding lefty batters to a .150 (6-for-40) average. Crockett had stints with the Indians in each of the past three seasons, logging a 3.25 ERA in 103 Major League outings.
"He's been doing pretty good," Francona said. "Even in Spring Training, he came in and kind of looked like the kid that we saw right out of college, but maybe a little stronger. So, good. It's good for him. Shoot, it gives us that third lefty, which we'll always take. Plus, we get a look at him against Major League hitters."
Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast.