GOODYEAR, Ariz. — When the Cleveland Indians open their 2020 season next month, they'll likely do so without Mike Clevinger on the mound.

On Friday, the Indians announced that Clevinger would undergo arthroscopic surgery after suffering a partial tear of the medial meniscus in his left knee. The team later confirmed the operation had been successfully completed by Dr. Tim Kremchek in Avondale, Arizona, and the 29-year-old starting pitcher is expected to miss six to eight weeks.

Zack Meisel of The Athletic first reported the news of Clevinger's injury. Should everything go smoothly, he could be in line to return around the start of the regular season after missing the first few games. Worst-case scenario (barring setbacks), he should be back in the rotation by mid-April.

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Despite their organizational pitching depth, any time missed by Clevinger during the season could prove pivotal for the Tribe. Following the offseason trade that sent Corey Kluber to the Texas Rangers, Clevinger entered 2020 as the front-runner to become the first Cleveland pitcher other than Kluber to start on Opening Day since 2014.

Indians Twins Baseball
Cleveland Indians pitcher Mike Clevinger leaves the game against the Minnesota Twins during a baseball game Sunday, Sept. 8, 2019 in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Andy Clayton-King)
AP

Despite battling a back injury that cost him more than three months of the 2019 season, the right-handed Clevinger is coming off a career year in which he amassed a 13-4 record, 2.71 ERA and 169 strikeouts in 21 starts. Should Clevinger miss time to start 2020, Cleveland will rely on defending All-Star MVP Shane Bieber and Carlos Carrasco to anchor their starting pitching staff, with Zach Plesac, Aaron Civale, Jefry Rodriguez and Adam Plutko all in the running to round out the team's rotation.

With pitchers and catchers having reported to Spring Training earlier this week, Cleveland's position players are set to report to Goodyear, Arizona, on Sunday. The Indians will open the 2020 season on March 26 in Cleveland when they host the Detroit Tigers at Progressive Field.

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