The return of Tommy John surgery. A triceps problem. A fight against the flu.
Throughout the reflection, Mike Clevinger would be stronger over time for having had to wait for one delay after another this year.
He certainly hopes that will also be the case with his recalcitrant right knee, a major hurdle when he failed to come out of the third inning at Dodger Stadium in Game 1 of the NLDS.
Saturday’s departure, for as long as it lasts, will be Clevinger’s first appearance since that cut short start to Los Angeles on Oct. 11.
“I struggled with some things physically,” Clevinger said. “I have good weeks, bad weeks. I feel like I’ve been fighting since the All-Star break. I felt like I was hitting a wall for a second with my knee. All rest in this moment will go very far for me.
The numbers back that up as Clevinger had a 6.82 ERA in seven starts on four days off this year, a 3.35 ERA in nine starts on five days off and a 2.90 ERA in six starts on six or more days off.
His right MCL sprain has been a concern since spring training, but how much it bothers him is an everyday matter.
Clevinger allowed one run in six innings for the White Sox on Oct. 1, giving up 16 straight at one point. Then in Game 1 of the NLDS, after another illness pushed him off the wild card list, Clevinger allowed five runs — four earned — on six hits and two walks in 2 2/3 innings. against the Dodgers.
The good news is that Clevinger said he pitched his first “intense” 35-pitch bullpen in about a month. The knee had forced him to cut short his normal impulses to start the days.
After naming Clevinger the Game 4 starter following Friday’s loss, Padres manager Bob Melvin declined to elaborate on what that would look like. With left-hander Sean Manaea still waiting for his first postseason pitch, it stands to reason that he too could factor into this game.
“We’ll see how it goes,” Melvin said late Friday night. “Take it dough.”
Clevinger beat the Phillies with five shutout innings here in May for its first win since 2020.
Here’s how Clevinger fared in his career against the current Phillies:
Meanwhile, Manaea has only faced Jean Segura (5 for 17, BB, K), Nick Castellanos (4 for 6, 2 HR, 3 RBI) and Rhys Hoskins (0 for 3, K), as he didn’t face the Phillies this year and made his only start against them in 2017 (5 IP, 1 ER).
When it comes to the roster, the Padres will continue to lean on Austin Nola, who has won MLB’s best 87 innings so far in the playoffs and will set a Padres playoff record if he’s in. this game in the sixth inning.
Carlos Hernandez caught 92 innings for the 1998 Padres.
Nola will bat ninth in a formation that is typically deployed for right-handers. The Phillies will start with a left-hander (Bailey Falter) who should come through once.
As such, Jurickson Profar will lead over shortstop Ha-Seong Kim.
Profar has a 0.705 OPS in 10 playoff games, compared to Kim’s 0.518.
Brandon Drury and Josh Bell are also both in Saturday’s lineup, at first base and DH respectively, leaving Wil Myers off the bench.
Like Melvin, Phillies manager Rob Thomson waited until after Friday’s game to announce he would start a bullpen game with Falter.
The 25-year-old Chino Hills High product went 6-4 with a 3.86 ERA, 74 strikeouts and a 1.21 WHIP in 84 innings, mostly as a starter.
Falter last faced the Padres last year, allowing three runs in 1 2/3 innings in two relief appearances. It will be his first playoff appearance and his first appearance of any kind since debuting as an opener for a scoreless inning Oct. 5 in Houston.
Falter last pitched more than one inning on Sept. 30, pitching six shutout innings at Washington.
Here’s how Falter fared against the current Padres, including two former NL East rivals in Juan Soto and Josh Bell:
- Soto (3 for 8, 3 RBI)
- Bell (4 for 5, 2B, 2 HR, 4 RBI 1 BB)
- 2B Jake Cronenworth (1 for 1)
- CF Trent Grisham (1 for 1)
- Myers (0 for 1, K)
Thomson added that right-hander Noah Syndergaard, who had a 4.12 ERA with the Phillies after the trade deadline and allowed one run in four innings in his NLDS departure, could also appear in the game.
Here is the Phillies roster: