Aaron Civale has been quite a mover in 2019.
Civale started his season in Double-A, where his 2018 season wrapped up. Last season, Civale posted a 3.89 ERA in 21 starts. In five starts at the level this season, that ERA dropped to 2.67, when he was promoted to Triple-A. With Columbus, Civale started just eight games His K/9 also jumped 9.8 at that level and his ERA was 2.13.
The most fascinating thing is that Civale has improved even more in the big leagues. He has posted a 1.50 ERA in four starts through Friday night’s six-inning outing against the Yankees.
This whole tale started when Cleveland was needing some extra help in the rotation. Civale remembers when he was notified of the promotion well.
“The first person I called was my girlfriend,” Civale said. “Then my mom after that. Brother and agent after that. It was kind of a last minute thing. I didn’t start that day of. The manager called me in later that day and let me know I would be throwing in Cleveland on Saturday. This was on Thursday. It was a pretty crazy couple of hours leading up to it. I was supposed to throw in Columbus on Thursday and ended up throwing in Cleveland on Saturday. I’ll take that trade.”
Civale made his big league debut on June 22 against the Tigers.
“(The debut) was pretty great,” Civale said. “I had a bunch of family and friends there. It was pretty awesome to have them be a part of that.”
While this was his official big league debut, Civale had some eased nerves because it was not the first time he had faced big league hitters. While a college player at Northeastern, Civale faced the Red Sox in a Spring Training exhibition game. In that 2015 appearance, Civale worked two innings. During that time he allowed no hits and he struck out David Ortiz, Hanley Ramirez, Mike Napoli, and Xander Bogaerts.
“Definitely both seemed like dreams at first,” Civale said. “Obviously this last one was more of a dream come true. Something I have been working a long time for. It was hopefully just the beginning, but both were awesome experiences. I carry that first one with me and have ever since, but getting up there and doing it for real this time is pretty special.”
The most interesting thing, is that Civale spent that season as a reliever at Northeaster and was transitioning to a starter for the following season.
“I had gone into college as a starter,” Civale said. “We just had three proven starters who had rotation spots in college. I found a spot in the bullpen and the coach had confidence in that. I stuck with that the first two years, kind of just whenever out of the bullpen. The first year and sophomore year was more of a closer role. I prepared to be a starter going into junior year and haven’t looked back since.”
It has been a small sample size, but 2019 has been an incredible season for Civale, as long as a handful of other young Cleveland starters. Time will tell if this continues long term, but regardless, Civale is in some rare territory through his first four starts in the big leagues.