The Cleveland Indians are tossing quite the 1-2 punch at the Kansas City Royals to begin the 2020 season.
After Shane Bieber recorded an Opening Day club-record 14 strikeouts in a 2-0 victory, the Indians will send fellow right-hander Mike Clevinger to the mound against the visiting Royals on Saturday.
Clevinger won all three meetings last season against Kansas City to improve to 9-0 with a 1.93 ERA and 1.03 WHIP in 13 career appearances (12 starts) against the Royals.
Those are daunting numbers awaiting a Royals club that mustered just four singles, struck out 18 times and left eight on base in the debut for first-year manager Mike Matheny.
Alex Gordon had one of those four hits on Friday. Gordon is 9-for-30 in his career versus Clevinger while Jorge Soler is 8-for-16 with three doubles against the hurler.
Clevinger looks to start off the new season in much the same manner in which he finished 2019.
The 29-year-old Clevinger posted a 2.30 ERA in 16 starts after the All-Star break to finish with a 13-4 record and 2.71 ERA.
While Clevinger has a major-league track record of success, Kansas City right-hander Brady Singer will be making his major-league debut on Saturday.
“As hard as I worked in the offseason and as much time that I put into the game, I came here pretty quick,” the 23-year-old Singer said. “… I put the expectations on myself to be here as soon as I can and this is where I saw myself.”
Singer, who is the Royals’ No. 2 prospect per MLB Pipeline, is the first member of the Royals’ vaunted 2018 MLB Draft class to make the big leagues. The 18th overall selection in that draft, Singer posted a 12-5 record with a 2.85 ERA in 26 starts at High-A Wilmington and Double-A Northwest Arkansas in 2019.
“He earned it,” Matheny said ahead of Singer’s first start. “He came in here and he made us watch him and how well he competed. Every bullpen, every outing, his training, this kid. … everything lined up that this kid is ready.”
Singer will face an Indians team that didn’t exactly tear it up at the plate in the season opener. Cleveland scratched for both of its runs in the fifth inning and managed just five hits to provide little margin for error.
Oscar Mercado had a run-scoring single in the fifth inning and Cesar Hernandez followed with an RBI double to score catcher Roberto Perez for the Indians.
“We didn’t smack the ball all over the ballpark,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “We stayed up the middle and hit the ball the other way and got rewarded for it. I thought Roberto’s base running was huge. I don’t know how many catchers can go first to third like that and he was doing it right off the get go. That really helped us.”
Cleveland is not expected to have outfielder Tyler Naquin available as he nurses a hairline toe fracture sustained after fouling a ball off his foot on Monday.
–Field Level Media