Two quality pitchers whose 2022 seasons have been influenced by injuries will be paired Saturday night in the second game of the weekend series between the San Diego Padres and host Los Angeles Dodgers.
Padres right-hander Mike Clevinger (3-3, 3.13 ERA) will make his 13th appearance and 12th start of the season after coming off a second round of Tommy John surgery in 2020. He also was on the injured list twice this year with injuries unrelated to the elbow reconstruction procedure.
Dodgers left-hander Andrew Heaney (1-0, 0.77) will make only his sixth start this season after two stints on the injured list with left-shoulder inflammation.
When healthy, both 31-year-old veterans are solid starters who could be key figures in the postseason. The Dodgers enter play Saturday with a commanding 13 1/2-game lead in the National League West over the Padres, who sit in the second wild-card slot.
But there are questions.
Heaney was on the injured list from April 20 to June 19 and again from June 21 to July 27. Clevinger opened the season on the injured list with a right-knee strain. Three weeks after he was reinstated on May 3, he missed another two weeks with a triceps strain from May 21 to June 5.
While this is only Heaney's third start since his most recent activation, Clevinger has made nine starts since coming off the injured list.
"There are no more restrictions on Clev," Padres manager Bob Melvin said recently. "There's no longer a pitch count or an innings limit."
Clevinger has gone seven innings and topped 90 pitches in each of his past two outings. Over his past three starts, he has given up four runs on 15 hits and three walks and 19 strikeouts in 20 innings for a 1.80 ERA.
For the season, Clevinger has a 1.077 WHIP and a .216 opponents' batting average. This will be the first time he has faced the Dodgers in his career.
"I just want to pitch and win," Clevinger said after his most recent start.
Heaney has allowed one run on five hits and five walks with 11 strikeouts in two four-inning starts since his most recent return. He hasn't faced the Padres this season but is 1-0 in two career starts against San Diego, giving up two runs on seven hits and three walks with 12 strikeouts over 14 1/3 innings for a 1.26 ERA.
He has pitched only 23 1/3 innings this seson, giving up four runs (two earned) on 14 hits and nine walks with 34 strikeouts.
"Heaney's second bout with the shoulder inflammation wasn't as serious as the first one," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said after the pitcher's return at the end of July. "It's been worrisome and a little frustrating for Andrew."
With Heaney's return, the Dodgers went to a six-man rotation, although those plans will be scrapped with Clayton Kershaw going on the injured list Friday with a lower back issue.
Meanwhile, the Padres' attempt to rest the ankle that Manny Machado sprained six weeks ago backfired Friday night when Machado took a break from playing the field and served as the designated hitter.
Recently acquired Brandon Drury, filling in at third base, threw away a ball on a swinging bunt, then misplayed a sharp grounder into what was scored a two-run double. He was charged with one error as the Dodgers won 8-1 to open the three-game set.
"We're still dealing with Manny's ankle," Melvin said. "That first game of the series didn't feel very good. We have to put it behind us."
--Field Level Media