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Bryan Shaw was a workhorse out of the bullpen in 2014

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But that workload could have an effect next year.

Bryan Shaw
Bryan Shaw
David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

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.

Bryan Shaw

  • Position: Right-handed relief pitcher
  • Age: 26
  • Acquired: trade, 12-11-2012 (three-way deal with Arizona and Cincinnati)
  • Contract Status: Arbitration-eligible
In 2013 Bryan Shaw usually pitched the 6th or 7th innings, and did very well setting up Cody Allen, Vinnie Pestano, and Chris Perez. This year, with Pestano banished to the minors and Chris Perez jettisoned to free agency, he became the club's primary eighth inning man and thrived in that role, pitching in a league-high 80 games, with many of those being scoreless appearances. The Indians, especially in the second half of the season didn't score many runs, so many of those holds were very high-leverage holds.

Shaw has basically two pitches in his arsenal: a mid-90s cutting fastball, and a slider. Shaw was incredible against right-handed hitters in 2014, holding them to a .168/.233/.260 in 192 Plate Appearances. He was more pedestrian against left-handed hitters, allowing them a .294/.345/.431, which included 11 of the 18 extra-base hits he allowed on the year. Shaw was rarely removed from a game because a left-hander was coming to the plate, and because clubs would pinch-hit left-handers whenever possible, he ended up facing almost an equal amount of right and left-handers in 2014. Shaw was a bit lucky with his ERA, as his FIP was 3.42, almost a run higher than his 2.59 ERA. Yes, an Indians pitcher was actually helped out by his defense.

A good relief pitcher should do three things well: maximize strikeouts, minimize walks, and minimize home runs. Because a late-inning reliever often is pitching with a very small lead (or even in a tie game), any runs he gives up could turn a win into a loss. Shaw did well in those three categories: he struck out 7.5/9 innings, walked only 2.6/9 innings, and allowed just 6 home runs in 80 innings of work. He got an opportunity to pitch in a more important role this season, and he rose to the challenge.

2014 Grade: B+

It is a truisim that a good reliever inevitably becomes a tired or injured reliever, victims of their own success. Bryan Shawn has pitched in an average of 70 innings over the past three years, and in an average of 71 games. Those are among the highest among in relievers in baseball, and although Shaw has shown the ability to pitch well when he's used often, often that workload manifests itself in either reduced effectiveness or injury. Perhaps that will show up next year, or won't show up until Shaw has signed a free agent contract with someone else, but whenever you see a reliever throw that many innings in a season you worry about what he'll be like the following year.

Shaw is eligible for arbitration for the first time, and should be getting a fairly sizable raise. The Indians have been reluctant to sign relievers to multi-year contracts, and I don't see that changing here.