CLEVELAND — The Cleveland Indians’ starting rotation got a big boost ahead of the opener in a four-game series against the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas Monday.

The Indians activated right-handed starter Mike Clevinger from the injured list, and he is slated to start tonight’s game against the Rangers after missing more than two months because of a severe back injury.

To make room on the roster, the Indians optioned left-handed pitcher Josh Smith to Triple-A Columbus and transferred staff ace Corey Kluber from the 10-day injured list to the 60-day injured list.

Clevinger’s return to Major League Baseball tonight came after he completed rehabilitation assignments, first with the Triple-A Columbus Clippers, and then, the franchise’s Double-A affiliate, the Akron RubberDucks, against the Hartford Yard Goats at Canal Park in Akron.

Mike Clevinger
Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Mike Clevinger delivers in the first inning of the team's baseball game against the Los Angeles Angels, Friday, Aug. 3, 2018, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
AP

Clevinger has been working his way through an upper back injury since early April, when he was placed on the 60-day injured list.

Before being shelved with the injury, Clevinger made two starts and allowed only two hits, four walks and no earned runs against 22 strikeouts in 12 innings of work for the Indians. Clevinger is 1-0 on the season with a 0.00 earned run average.

Last season, Clevinger emerged as a permanent fixture in the starting rotation, logging 200.0 innings of work in his 32 appearances. Clevinger allowed 164 hits, 67 earned runs and 67 walks while striking out 207 hitters on his way to a 13-8 record.

Mike Clevinger
Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Mike Clevinger delivers in the first inning of the team's baseball game against the Los Angeles Angels, Friday, Aug. 3, 2018, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
AP

Clevinger made MLB history in his final home start of the 2018 regular season when he became the fourth Indians pitcher with 200 strikeouts in the same year. No other team ever has had four pitchers with 200 or more strikeouts in the same year.

The 2018 season marked the second time in as many years that Clevinger posted a double-digit win total, as he won 12 games in 2017.

In 78 games, including 65 starts, over four years with the Indians, Clevinger is 29-17 (.630 winning percentage) with a 3.26 ERA over 386.2 innings of work. Clevinger has registered 416 strikeouts against 308 hits, 140 earned runs, 42 home runs and 160 walks allowed.