Mike Clevinger said in January he wasn’t even thinking about the bullpen as a potential landing spot, and that he had his sights set on logging 200 innings in 2018.

He knew at that point he’d be entering a four-man competition, along with Josh Tomlin, Danny Salazar and Ryan Merritt, for the two open spots in the Indians’ starting rotation.

With more than three weeks remaining until Opening Day, Clevinger now knows he’ll get his wish and have his spot in the starting rotation, at least to start the season, according to an MLB.com report.

Clevinger pitched three hitless innings and struck out six in Monday’s 8-1 Cactus League loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Afterward, Indians manager Terry Francona told MLB.com that Clevinger will be joining the starting rotation out of camp, barring some unforeseen circumstances.

Francona reportedly added that Salazar, who experienced an onset of right shoulder rotator cuff inflammation this winter, won’t be fully ready by Opening Day to really challenge for a rotation spot. Salazar has been working his way back, but it appears his health has once again gotten in the way of his progress.

“As we stand right now, [Clevinger is] going to be in the rotation,” Francona. “Danny’s not going to be ready. We’re looking for Clev to have a big year. He’s strong, and he should be able to be that innings-eater type pitcher.”

With Clevinger in and Salazar not fully ready, that leaves Tomlin as the front-runner for the final spot in the rotation. Merritt, who was roughed up on Monday (four runs allowed, two earned, four hits allowed, two strikeouts), is out of minor-league options, which could make him a natural fit for the last spot in the bullpen should he not make the starting rotation. Otherwise, he’ll have to pass through waivers before being sent to the minors.

Last season, Clevinger went 12-6 with a 3.11 ERA and 10.1 K/9 rate in 121⅔ innings.

Ryan Lewis can be reached at rlewis@thebeaconjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/RyanLewisABJ.