What Happened to Mike Clevinger?

Frank Jones

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What Happened to Mike Clevinger

Mike Clevinger is a name that might ring a bell for any Major League Baseball fan. As a former top-of-the-rotation pitcher who starred with the Cleveland Indians, Clevinger was a force to be reckoned with on the mound.

However, his career has taken some twists and turns in recent years, including a 2020 trade to the San Diego Padres and a subsequent signing with the Chicago White Sox for the 2021 season.

Unfortunately, Clevinger’s time with the White Sox was cut short by a devastating injury, leaving fans wondering what might have been.

In this post, we’ll take a closer look at what happened to Mike Clevinger, tracing his career from his early days with the Indians to his current status as a rehabbing pitcher with an uncertain future.

Clevinger’s Career With the Indians

Mike Clevinger was drafted by the Los Angeles Angels in the fourth round of the 2011 MLB Draft, but he was traded to the Cleveland Indians in 2014.

He made his major league debut with the Indians in 2016 and quickly established himself as a key part of the team’s starting rotation. Over the next few seasons, Clevinger helped the Indians reach the postseason three times, including a trip to the World Series in 2016.

One of Clevinger’s standout seasons with the Indians came in 2019, when he earned his first All-Star selection and posted a 13-4 record with a 2.71 ERA. That year, he struck out 169 batters in just 126 innings pitched, showcasing his dominant stuff on the mound.

However, Clevinger also faced some notable setbacks during his time with the Indians. In 2017, he missed several weeks of the season due to a back injury. In 2018, he suffered a sprained ankle during a game and was placed on the disabled list for several weeks.

Despite these setbacks, Clevinger continued to be a consistent and effective pitcher for the Indians, racking up impressive statistics and playing a key role in the team’s success.

Overall, Clevinger’s career with the Cleveland Indians was marked by his talent, competitiveness, and durability.

He established himself as one of the top pitchers in the American League during his time with the team, and his success helped pave the way for his subsequent trades and signings with other clubs.

Clevinger’s Trade to the Padres

In August 2020, just before the trade deadline, the Cleveland Indians traded Mike Clevinger to the San Diego Padres as part of a nine-player deal.

The trade was somewhat surprising, as Clevinger had been a key part of the Indians’ starting rotation and was widely considered to be one of the best pitchers in the American League.

However, there were reports that Clevinger had violated team protocols related to COVID-19 safety, which may have played a role in the decision to trade him.

After joining the Padres, Clevinger continued to perform at a high level. He made four starts for the team, posting a 2-1 record with a 2.84 ERA. In his first start with the Padres, he pitched six innings of one-run ball and struck out seven batters, earning a win against the Seattle Mariners.

He also helped the Padres secure a playoff spot in 2020, though he was unable to pitch in the postseason due to an elbow injury.

Unfortunately, Clevinger’s time with the Padres was cut short by the same injury that sidelined him during the playoffs. He was diagnosed with a right elbow strain and was forced to miss the remainder of the 2020 season, including the Padres’ playoff run.

The injury ultimately led to Clevinger undergoing Tommy John surgery in November 2020, which meant that he would miss the entire 2021 season as well.

Despite this setback, the Padres expressed optimism about Clevinger’s future with the team, with some sources indicating that they were planning to offer him a long-term contract extension.

Clevinger’s Signing With the White Sox

Mike Clevinger’s time with the San Diego Padres was cut short by an elbow injury that required Tommy John surgery, meaning he would miss the entire 2021 season.

After undergoing the procedure, Clevinger became a free agent and was expected to miss a significant portion of the 2022 season as well.

Despite his injury, the Chicago White Sox signed Clevinger to a one-year contract worth $12 million early in the 2021 offseason.

The move was seen as somewhat of a gamble by the White Sox, as Clevinger was unlikely to pitch for the team in 2021 and there were no guarantees that he would return to his previous form once he was healthy.

The White Sox hoped to get a top-of-the-rotation pitcher in Clevinger once he recovered from his injury, adding to an already impressive starting rotation that included Lucas Giolito, Lance Lynn, and Dallas Keuchel.

Clevinger’s ability to pitch deep into games and generate swings and misses made him an attractive target for the White Sox, who were looking to make a deep playoff run in 2021.

However, there were reports during spring training that Clevinger was experiencing some discomfort in his pitching arm, which raised concerns about his recovery timeline.

Ultimately, Clevinger was diagnosed with a setback in his elbow rehab, and it was announced that he would undergo revision Tommy John surgery.

This meant that he would miss the entirety of the 2022 season as well, and it cast doubt on his ability to return to form once he is healthy. The White Sox ultimately released Clevinger in March 2022, ending his brief tenure with the team.

Clevinger’s Injury and 2021 Season

In November 2020, Mike Clevinger underwent Tommy John surgery to repair a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow, which ultimately sidelined him for the entire 2021 season.

This injury is a common one among pitchers, and requires a lengthy recovery period of 12-18 months, during which time the pitcher must rebuild their arm strength and mechanics.

For Clevinger, this meant that he would not be able to contribute to the White Sox during the 2021 season, and the team would have to rely on other pitchers to fill his spot in the rotation.

While the White Sox had signed Clevinger with the hope that he would be able to return to form once he was healthy, the surgery and subsequent rehab process meant that he would not be able to pitch for the team until at least 2022.

Throughout the 2021 season, there were occasional updates on Clevinger’s progress, though he did not appear to be making significant strides in his recovery.

In June, it was reported that he had started throwing off a mound, but it was unclear when he would be able to return to game action.

Later in the season, there were reports that Clevinger had suffered a setback in his rehab, which raised concerns about his ability to return to form once he was healthy.

Ultimately, the White Sox were unable to rely on Clevinger during the 2021 season, and had to turn to other pitchers to fill his spot in the rotation.

Despite this setback, the team was still able to make a deep playoff run, reaching the American League Division Series before being eliminated by the Houston Astros.

While Clevinger was not able to contribute to the team on the field, his signing showed that the White Sox were willing to take risks in order to improve their roster, and it remains to be seen whether he will be able to make an impact for the team in the future.

Summary of Mike Clevinger’s Career

YearTeamRecordERAInnings PitchedStrikeoutsNotes
2016CLE3-35.2653.150Made MLB debut
2017CLE12-63.11121.2137Helped team reach ALDS
2018CLE13-83.02200.0207Finalist for AL Gold Glove
2019CLE13-42.71126.0169All-Star selection
2020CLE/SD1-13.0241.240Traded to SD mid-season
2021CHWN/AN/AN/AN/AMissed season due to injury

This table provides a snapshot of Clevinger’s performance over the course of his career, including his record, ERA, innings pitched, and strikeouts for each year he played.

It also highlights some notable achievements and events, such as his All-Star selection and trade to the San Diego Padres mid-season in 2020. The table concludes with information about Clevinger’s current status, as he missed the entire 2021 season due to injury.


Will Mike Clevinger be able to return to his previous form after Tommy John surgery?

It is difficult to predict how a pitcher will perform after undergoing Tommy John surgery, as recovery and rehab can vary from person to person. However, many pitchers are able to make successful comebacks after the surgery and return to their previous level of performance.

Will Mike Clevinger stay with the Chicago White Sox beyond his one-year contract?

It remains to be seen whether the White Sox will choose to re-sign Clevinger after his one-year contract is up, or whether they will look to other options. This will likely depend on Clevinger’s recovery from his injury and his performance once he returns to the field.

What other teams have shown interest in Mike Clevinger?

There have been rumors of interest in Clevinger from a number of teams, including the New York Yankees and the San Francisco Giants. However, it is unclear whether these teams have made any official offers or whether Clevinger would be interested in signing with them.

What is Mike Clevinger’s pitching style?

Clevinger is known for his fastball, which he typically throws in the mid-to-high 90s, as well as his slider and curveball. He is also known for his competitiveness and intensity on the mound.

Has Mike Clevinger won any major awards or accolades?

In addition to his All-Star selection in 2019, Clevinger was named the American League Pitcher of the Month in June 2019 and was a finalist for the American League Gold Glove award in 2018.


Mike Clevinger’s career has been marked by both successes and setbacks. He established himself as a top-of-the-rotation pitcher during his time with the Cleveland Indians, earning an All-Star selection and helping the team reach the postseason in multiple seasons.

However, his tenure with the San Diego Padres was cut short by an elbow injury that required Tommy John surgery, and his signing with the Chicago White Sox was marred by setbacks and further injury.

While Clevinger’s future in the MLB remains uncertain, his career serves as a reminder of the risks and rewards of investing in pitchers.

Despite the challenges he has faced, Clevinger remains a talented and highly-regarded pitcher, and it is possible that he will be able to make a comeback once he is healthy.

Whatever the future holds, his impact on the game of baseball is undeniable, and his story serves as an inspiration for players and fans alike.

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