Every day you'll find a look back at the 2014 season for one of the Indians or their key prospects, as we sort out what happened and what it means for the franchise going forward.
- Position: Left-hander reliever
- Age: 29
- Acquired: Trade with St. Louis for Juan Herrera (July 30, 2013)
- Contract status: Eligible for arbitration (Year 2)
Rzepczynski came to Cleveland in a deadline deal in 2013 and helped the Indians win a Wild Card spot by allowing only 2 earned runs in 20.1 innings during the season's final two months. He continued to pitch well for the Tribe, posting a 2.74 ERA (and 2.85 FIP) in 46 innings of work. He allowed only one home run the entire season.
His only rough patch of the season came in June, when he allowed at least one run in five out of ten appearances in one stretch. From Jul1 until the end of the season he held batters to .533 OPS and allowed only 1 earned run in 32 appearances. There was a pretty significant difference in his usage during those final three months: In the season's first half he was often called on to face four or more batters (and many of those outings were the ones in which he was charged with runs). After the season's midpoint though, he was asked to face more than three batters only six times, including only once in his final 21 appearances. Usually he was brought in only to face one or two hitters. He dominated lefties, but really struggled against righties. Once Francona stopped asking him to face more righties than lefties, he was excellent.
Rzepczynski gave up a .944 OPS against righties, which is dreadful. Against lefties though, he allowed an OPS of only .441, which was 10th lowest in all of baseball from among more than 300 pitchers who faced at least 100 left-handed hitters. I imagine both of those figures will show some regression to the middle in 2015, but I also expect that Scrabble will continue to be one of the toughest pitchers in baseball for lefties to hit.
2014 grade: B
Rzepczynski is entering his second year of arbitration eligibility. He made $1.375 million in 2014 and I expect him to get a raise to ~$2 million for next season. The Indians also have southpaws Kyle Crockett and Nick Hagadone, and odds are one of them will be squeezed out of the bullpen. Crockett is by far the youngest, and was great in his small sample of innings this season. Neither of the other two has Rzepczynski's track record for getting lefties out though. Hopefully Francona will stick with what worked in the second half, and put Scrabble in the best position to help the team as frequently as possible.