Game 4 of the 2022 NLCS could not have started better for the San Diego Padres, as a Manny Machado home run was one of four runs the Padres plated in the first inning. All Mike Clevinger had to do was keep things in check, and San Diego would have stolen a road win in Philly.
Clevinger responded by pitching just about as bad as humanly possible. If you’ll forgive the sarcasm, that’s not what you want. Clevinger surrendered three runs before Nick Martinez had to come in and put out the fire. The momentum San Diego picked up was extinguished.
The Phillies would go on to score 10 runs in the game and take a commanding 3-1 series lead. While the bullpen certainly did him no favors, getting as many outs as you and I did on the mound may forever consign Clevinger to this fanbase’s most hated list.
A free agent at the end of the season, the Padres should not bring Clevinger back into the fold. After surrendering eight earned runs in the postseason and only recording eight outs in total when his team needed him most is grounds for dumping a pitcher coming off the worst season of his career.
The San Diego Padres shouldn’t resign Mike Clevinger.
The Padres invested in Clevinger, who had a 2.96 ERA between 2017 and 2019, like he was going to be an elite pitcher. All five players that were traded to the team formerly known as the Cleveland Indians (Cal Quantrill, Owen Miller, Austin Hedges, Josh Naylor, Gabriel Arias) played a role on a Guardians squad that won the AL Central.
Missing all of 2021 due to Tommy John Surgery was not the best way to start off his Padres career, and putting up a nasty 4.33 ERA is also not a great look. With his strikeouts way down and his walk rate up, it’s clear Clevinger isn’t the same pitcher he was in Cleveland.
The Padres have three established starters in Yu Darvish, Joe Musgrove, and Blake Snell. Beyond that, the disappointing performances of Clevinger and Sean Manaea have made getting more veteran arms a priority for A.J. Preller.
With top young arm MacKenzie Gore now a National after the Juan Soto deal, the cupboards are much barer than they were a year ago.
Preller should be praised up and down for his aggressive moves, which have made the Padres a contender. Unfortunately, the price of doing business like this is the fact that a starting-caliber first baseman and a tremendous young right-hander can sometimes be traded away for 26 subpar starts and two playoff disasters.