Before the 2019 MLB season began, many pundits believed the Cleveland Indians were still the team to beat in the AL Central due to the strength of their starting rotation. The idea of Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, Trevor Bauer, Mike Clevinger and Shane Beiber day after day was as fearsome as any pitching tandem in baseball. As the season kicked off, things didn’t exactly go as planned. With early injuries to both Kluber and Clevinger, Carrasco’s illness and Bauer’s roller-coaster year which ended with him being traded, the Indians’ misfortune has been well documented this season.
To compound the issues, the offense was underachieving for a full two months to begin the year. It took everything a shorthanded staff could muster just to keep the team around the .500 mark. Since June, as the offense began to straighten themselves out, the pitching has continued to perform at a high level, even if the names aren’t the ones we expected.
Beiber’s emergence as one of the top arms in the league is an incredible story on its own. Zach Plesac and Adam Plutko have provided a much-needed bandage that had transformed a lost year into yet another season of competitive baseball in Cleveland. While many unlikely names have stepped up, the adversity the team has faced seemed to have left the pitching staff in a pennant race without much of a safety net. At least, that seemed to be the case until the Indians introduced Aaron Civale.
A third-round pick in 2016, Civale has been climbing the ranks of the minor leagues relatively quickly. 2019 has proven to be his finest season yet, as he excelled in both Akron and in Columbus this season. So when the Indians needed an emergency starter, Civale was called upon to start the June 22 game against the Detroit Tigers for his MLB debut. Civale shut down the Tigers through six scoreless innings, earning his first Major League win.
Civale wasn’t given another opportunity until August, but in his two starts since being recalled, he’s picked up where he left off. Civale has yet to allow more than one run in any of his starts with the Indians. His last start came in an incredibly important series against the Minnesota Twins. Civale gave up one run, allowing the team to eventually earn a win keeping the Indians in a dead heat for first place with the Twins.
While three starts are hardly enough of a sample size to put Civale in the Hall of Fame, he has shown that he has an incredible arsenal of pitches.
Civale’s scouting report gives him credit with a fastball in the low 90’s, but as you can see in the video above he must have added a few MPH recently. While many pitchers can his the mid 90’s very few have the movement that Civale’s two-seam fastball has. Both left and right-handed batters have really struggled to adjust to the pitch. To mix that in with a handful of off-speed pitches Civale has not had too many batters very comfortable while facing him.
As of right now, in 18 Major League innings, Civale has only yielded nine hits. He has 18 strikeouts against only four walks and an ERA of 1.00. While Columbus is a beautiful town, the way Civale is pitching, he might not get to see much of it anymore. The Indians may have uncovered yet another gem of a pitcher at the perfect time.