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Clevinger, 31, returned to the Padres last season after having missed all of 2021 due to Tommy John surgery. He appeared in 23 games, 22 of which were starts, and went 7-7 with a 4.33 ERA (86 ERA+), 4.97 FIP and 1.20 WHIP. In 114 1/3 innings, he struck out 91 and walked 35.
Before the elbow injury and surgery — which was Clevinger’s second Tommy John — he was a frontline starter, even if not an ace. From 2017-20, he was 41-20 with a 2.96 ERA (152 ERA+) and 1.15 WHIP with 553 strikeouts in 489 1/3 innings.
The White Sox will obviously be hoping that Clevinger returns to form now with the first year post-surgery under his belt. He returns to the AL Central, as he spent parts of his first five MLB seasons with Cleveland.
There were spurts of the old Clevinger this season, too. In 10 outings from May 17 to Aug. 1, for example, he had a 2.81 ERA with 49 strikeouts in 51 1/3 innings.
It’s possible this move rounds out the White Sox rotation for 2023, assuming Clevinger has a guaranteed starter role. Dylan Cease, Lance Lynn, Lucas Giolito and Michael Kopech are all locked up at least through next season, so Clevinger makes it five.
After winning the AL Central in 2021, the White Sox were one of the biggest disappointments in baseball last year, going 81-81 and missing the playoffs. There’s certainly good upside in the rotation, but there is still work to be done on the offensive side.