Mike Clevinger will be on the mound Thursday afternoon in Anaheim, Calif., making his debut for the San Diego Padres against the team that originally drafted him, the Los Angeles Angels.
Clevinger, who was traded from the Cleveland Indians to the Padres in a deadline deal on Monday, will make his second start since he was placed on the restricted list by the Indians for breaking COVID-19 protocols in early August.
He missed three weeks, but returned with a solid game Aug. 26, giving up two runs on eight hits and one walk over six innings in a victory over the Minnesota Twins. Clevinger, who is 1-1 with a 3.18 ERA in four starts this season, is excited about his opportunity for a fresh start with a new team.
“(The Padres) are the most exciting team in baseball by far right now,” he said. “It’s definitely the place to be. I’m stoked that they wanted me here. It’s a definitely a destination guys want to be.”
He could not have picked a better opponent than the Angels to impress his new teammates. In six career starts against them, he is 4-0 with a 2.94 ERA. He’s even better pitching in Anaheim — 2-0 with a 0.79 ERA in two starts (one earned run in 11 1/3 innings).
The Angels drafted Clevinger out of Seminole Community College in Sanford, Fla., in 2011, and he was having a mediocre season playing Class-A ball in 2014 when he was traded to the Indians for middle reliever Vinnie Pestano, who played his last major league game in 2015.
Clevinger, who was 23 at the time, was 4-3 with a 4.31 ERA in 18 combined starts playing for the Burlington (Iowa) Bees and Inland Empire (Calif.) 66ers, while Pestano was a major league reliever the Angels felt they needed to fortify their bullpen for a playoff push.
Now, Clevinger joins a team that hasn’t been to the playoffs in 14 years.
“I know it’s been since 2006, but there’s definitely something brewing here, and it’s going to be special for the coming years, it’s not just this year,” he said. “I couldn’t be any more excited. This is exactly where I wanted to be. From a distance, this was one of the best organizations around.”
Andrew Heaney will start on the mound for the Angels, coming off his best performance in an otherwise disappointing season. Heaney, the Angels’ opening day starter, failed to last at least six innings in any of his first six starts. He had an ERA of 5.52, and the club was 1-5 in games he started.
But he put it all together in his most recent start last Friday against the Seattle Mariners. He pitched 7 2/3 innings, allowed one run on four hits and two walks and struck out a season-best 10.
The formula, Angels manager Joe Maddon said, is simple.
“A lot of strikes, he filled up the strike zone,” Maddon said. “He was in attack mode and I’m here to tell you if he could just stay in that frame of mind, he can be that successful on a consistent basis. The (radar) gun number is not gonna read really high, but on field level, it jumps at the end, and hitters will show you that.”
Heaney has faced the Padres once in his career, Aug. 13, 2018, when he got a no-decision but pitched well, allowing two runs on four hits and one walk in 7 1/3 innings.
Angels center fielder Mike Trout hit the Padres well in his seven career games against them, batting .429 (12 for 28) with two doubles, a triple, two home runs and three stolen bases in six games. That includes Wednesday’s game, in which Trout went 2-for-4 with a home run.
–Field Level Media