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Did The Tribe Win Last Night? | July 5, 2020

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Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 27

Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 27

| On 28, Feb 2020

Baseball takes little time off in between seasons, so neither can we. Follow along at Did the Tribe Win Last Night as we count down to March 26, when the Cleveland Indians host the Detroit Tigers for game one of the 2020 season. – BT

Countdown to Opening Day – 27 days

The Indians essentially swapped backup catchers with the Boston Red Sox in the offseason.

Kevin Plawecki, a former late first round pick by the New York Mets who wore the number 27 for the Indians in his one season in town in 2019, filled the void behind the plate created when Cleveland traded Yan Gomes to Washington. The Indians added the longtime Met in a trade on January 6, 2019, dealing minor leaguer Sam Haggerty and reliever Walker Lockett for him.

Plawecki – Icon SportsWire (via Getty Images)

Serving as the backup to Roberto Perez, Plawecki made 46 starts at catcher, posting a .995 fielding percentage (two errors in 439 chances over 418 innings) while throwing out seven of 31 would-be base stealers (23%, just below the league average mark in 2019). At the plate, he provided the lineup with a .222/.287/.342 slash in 59 total games with ten doubles, three homers, and 17 RBI.

While Plawecki’s production was generally unremarkable, he did have some surprising numbers on his stat sheet. He went to the mound twice for the Indians as a reliever in mop-up duty and retired all six batters that he faced in order on April 21 against Atlanta and May 5 against Seattle. He had pitched twice previously in 2017 with the Mets, giving up four runs on five hits (including three homers) over three innings.

Plawecki was expendable after the Indians acquired eight-year big leaguer Sandy Leon from Boston on December 2 for minor league pitcher Adenys Bautista. Plawecki was not tendered a contract with the club for 2020 and became a free agent the same day. He signed one month later with the Red Sox to be the backup in Boston.

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Two wore the 27 the year before Plawecki arrived to the organization, including former top prospect Francisco Mejia. He appeared in just one game that season, drawing two walks in four plate appearances on July 14, 2018, before being dealt at the end of the month for Brad Hand and Adam Cimber.

Josh Donaldson picked up the number after Mejia’s departure and put up a longer and more productive run in it for the Tribe, albeit still a short one as his stay with Cleveland lasted just over a month. Acquired by the Indians from the Toronto Blue Jays at the waivers trade deadline on August 31, 2018, for a player to be named later (pitcher Julian Merryweather, sent on October 5), Donaldson was still working his way back to health after missing much of the season with injury. With just 36 games under his belt in his eighth big league season, Donaldson suited up for the Tribe for the first time on September 11. Three days later, he hit a solo homer (one of three that he hit with the Indians in the regular season), and by the end of the month, he was just starting to heat up, just in time for the team’s short postseason experience.

Donaldson signed with Atlanta for the 2019 season and joined the rival Minnesota Twins this winter as one of the top free agents on the market.

Before Mejia and Donaldson, former Cleveland reliever and number 27 Bryan Shaw contributed a long run of success while working from the Indians bullpen. His departure from the club as a free agent after the 2017 left a noticeable void in the Tribe’s bullpen in 2018, even if he himself has failed to pitch to previous performance levels while with the Colorado Rockies.

Shaw joined the Rockies on a three-year, $27 million deal with a team option for the 2021 season, while the Indians failed to address his exit that offseason, instead bringing in low-risk options to try out as his replacement. Given Shaw’s production at Coors Field, the move looks smarter for the Indians in hindsight, even without having established a consistent replacement for Shaw in the bullpen since.

Shaw – Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

The void of Shaw’s unfilled heavy workload took a toll on the entire pitching staff, with starters pitching deeper into games and the bullpen struggling as players tried to find new roles in 2018. The Indians eventually added a pair of relievers at the trade deadline, picking up Hand and Cimber from the San Diego Padres (moves made more with an eye to the future, when Cody Allen and Andrew Miller both got their turns on the free agent market).

Unfortunately for the Indians, the entire club came out flat in the playoffs, outscored 21-6 in a three-game American League Division Series sweep by the Houston Astros. Donaldson went 1-for-11 with a single, a walk, and four strikeouts.

Shaw was a second round selection by the D’Backs in the 2008 draft. He 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, before he was sent east as part of a large package of players on the move that winter in a three-team trade between the Indians, Diamondbacks, and the Reds. The Indians acquired 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 became 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 those last two years (14 games and 16 1/3 innings).

No pitcher had taken the mound more than Shaw from 2015 to 2017. In his 228 appearances in that time, he led the American League with 75 in 2016 and all of baseball with 79 in 2017. He was the bridge in Terry Francona’s bullpen between the starting rotation and closers Allen and 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. In 2017, 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.

His numbers from Cleveland have not traveled to Colorado. In 131 games across the 2018 and 2019 slate with the Rockies, Shaw has a combined 7-8 record with a 5.61 ERA, a 1.55 WHIP, one save, 25 holds, and 11 blown saves.

Other notable 27s in Tribe history (39 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: Jason Miller/Getty Images

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Miss out on our other Countdown pieces? Check out more Indians history below!

Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 99 (Daniel Robertson)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 90 (Adam Cimber)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 88 (Phil Maton)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 77 (Jack Armstrong)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 76 (Tom Magrann)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 75 (Mike Walker)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 73 (Ricardo Rincon)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 72 (Jason Giambi)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 71 (Johnny Hodapp)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 70 (James Karinchak, George Kontos)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 69 (Luis Medina)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 68 (Jefry Rodriguez, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 67 (Aaron Civale, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 66 (Yasiel Puig, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 65 (Zach Plesac, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 64 (Tom Kramer, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 63 (Josh Smith, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 62 (Nick Wittgren, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 61 (Dan Otero, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 60 (Jhonny Peralta, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 59 (Carlos Carrasco)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 58 (Neil Ramirez, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 57 (Shane Bieber)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 56 (Cody Anderson)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 55 (Roberto Perez)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 54 (Hunter Wood)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 53 (Logan Allen)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 52 (Mike Clevinger)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 51 (numerous)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 50 (James Hoyt, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 49 (Tyler Olson, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 48 (Emmanuel Clase, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 47 (Trevor Bauer)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 46 (Jon Edwards, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 45 (Adam Plutko)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 44 (Nick Goody, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 43 (Josh Tomlin, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 42 (Mike Jackson, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 41 (Carlos Santana, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 40 (Bobby Bradley, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 39 (Oliver Perez, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 38 (Eric Haase, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 37 (Cody Allen, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 36 (Tyler Clippard, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 35 (Oscar Mercado, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 34 (A.J. Cole, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 33 (Brad Hand, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 32 (Franmil Reyes, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 31 (Danny Salazar, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 30 (Tyler Naquin, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 29 (Andre Thornton)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 28 (Corey Kluber)

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