Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 27
Bob Toth | On 02, Mar 2018
While the offseason has been historically slow and the winter has crawled along at an even slower pace, we at Did The Tribe Win Last Night look ahead to the warmer days of the 2018 season by remembering Tribe players past and present.
Countdown to Opening Day – 27 days
Reliever Bryan Shaw might not have been the most popular Indians pitcher during his five seasons in a Cleveland uniform and, in particular, in his number 27, but his absence will be felt heavily this season.
Shaw, who turned 30 a week after the completion of the 2017 World Series, has packed his bags for the crisp Rocky Mountain air of Denver, Colorado, home of the National League’s Rockies. His three-year, $27 million deal with a team option for the 2021 season returns the right-hander to the NL West, where he began his career with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2011.
Shaw was a second round selection by the D’Backs in the 2008 draft and had appeared in nearly 100 games for Arizona between the 2011 and 2012 seasons, posting a 2-6 record with two saves, a 3.18 ERA, and a 1.39 WHIP. He was part of a large package of players on the move that winter in a three-team trade between the Indians, Diamondbacks, and the Reds, with the Indians acquiring Shaw, Matt Albers, and Trevor Bauer from Arizona and outfielder Drew Stubbs from Cincinnati.
While Bauer seemed to get the bulk of the attention surrounding Cleveland’s return on the trade, Shaw would become an undervalued member of the roster for the next half decade. He pitched in 70 games in relief in 2013, logging 75 innings, posting a 3.24 ERA, and earning seven wins and 12 holds. The next season, he led all of baseball with 80 appearances, earning a 2.59 ERA and a 1.09 WHIP while saving two games and holding 24 more. He continued to be reliable in relief over each of the next three seasons, averaging a 3.26 ERA and a 1.23 WHIP with six saves and 74 holds in 207 1/3 innings over 228 games for the Tribe, not counting some extensive work in the playoffs over the last two years (14 games and 16 1/3 innings).
Over the last three seasons, no pitcher has taken the mound more than Shaw. In his 228 appearances in that time, he led the American League with 75 in 2016 and all of baseball with 79 last season. He has been the bridge in Terry Francona’s bullpen between the starting rotation and closer Cody Allen, first holding down the setup role before later splitting time in that capacity with All-Star left-hander Andrew Miller.
Shaw became a punching bag for a large contingent of fans, excluding his unofficial fan club in The Corner at Progressive Field. He could at times give up runs in bunches, bloating his ERA and causing some to look away from his more routine and better pitched outings. Last season, he allowed two runs or more in nine games, but few gave him credit for his 55 scoreless trips to the mound. The year before, he allowed two runs or more just five times (with three of those outings earning him a blown save and/or a loss). He made 61 scoreless appearances that year. He limited the damage of others overall, however, allowing just 28% of inherited base runners to score in his five seasons in Cleveland.
The Indians’ bullpen will have a different look going forward, as Allen and Miller enter the final year of their contracts. Francona will have to turn to Dan Otero, Zach McAllister, and Nick Goody to eat up some of the innings lost by Shaw’s move out west. Depending on how the season plays out, they may even get a chance to throw to the Indians’ newest number 27, top catching prospect Francisco Mejia.
Other notable 27s in Tribe history (36 in total): Moe Berg (the first in 1931), Steve Gromek (1948-53), Herb Score (1955-59), Leon Wagner (1964-68), Dick Bosman (1973-75), Mel Hall (1984-88), Jaret Wright (1997-2002), Jack Cressend (2003-04), Lonnie Chisenhall (2011).
Photo: Jamie Squire/Getty Images