San Diego Padres

Playoff-Bound Padres May Have Lost Top Starter

Clevinger suffers sprained elbow, might not pitch again in 2020

The Padres got both good news and bad news on Mike Clevinger. The good news is an MRI on his pitching arm revealed an elbow sprain, something most often treatable without surgery.

The bad news is it’s not the kind of injury that heals quickly, so there’s a very good chance the man they sent a boatload of players to Cleveland for at the trade deadline, a certifiable No. 1 starter, won’t be available again this season. For most teams, that’s devastating news.

The Padres are trying to treat it like a bump in the road.

“[We’re] comfortable with our options,” manager Jayce Tingler said. “Like I said, we’re not going flip out.”

If Clevinger can’t go, they still have a formidable top of the rotation … as long as everyone is throwing up to their potential. Dinelson Lamet is almost certainly going to be the starter in Game 1 of the best-of-three wild card series at Petco Park next Wednesday. Lamet is in the Cy Young award conversation and will be among the league leaders in strikeouts after his final tune-up in San Francisco over the weekend.

Game 2 then falls to either Zach Davies or Chris Paddack, with the other one likely taking Game 3 (if necessary). Garrett Richards, who spent most of the season in the starting rotation, has transitioned to the bullpen but could be used as a starter in an emergency.

The good news for the Friars is they clinched their playoffs spot with a week to go in the regular season, so they have the luxury of setting their post-season rotation during their final four games in the Bay Area.

“Some of the guys that we’re gonna need for Wednesday, Thursday; [if necessary] Wednesday, Thursday, Friday," Tingler said. "We’re gonna try to line that up and make sure that those guys are well-rested, fresh and good to go. They’re going to need some work or a little tune-up right before we go, and we’ll start lining those things up.”

As for who they would face? Right now, there are four possibilities. It will either be the Marlins, Phillies, Reds or Cardinals. As it stands now, it’s St. Louis, because of course it is.

In their more than five decades of existence, the Padres have been to the playoffs five times. Twice they went to the World Series. The other three times -- 1996, 2005 and 2006 -- they got knocked out in the first round by the Cardinals. In fact, in their post-season history, the Padres are 1-9 against the Redbirds.

So if that is the matchup, it’ll be a nice chance to reverse a bad playoff trend.

LISTEN: With NBC 7 San Diego's Darnay Tripp and Derek Togerson behind the mic, On Friar will cover all things San Diego Padres. Interviews, analysis, behind the scenes...the ups, downs, and everything in between. Tap here to find On Friar wherever you listen to podcasts. 

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