Bryan Shaw is easy to take for granted. He's a reliever, but not a closer. He doesn't have a big arm and can't light up the radar gun with upper 90's fastballs. His off-speed pitches are solid, but not spectacular or full of crazy movement. He doesn't even show a ton of personality on the mound, so don't expect angry glares toward the plate or imaginary arrows flying into the sky.
However, Shaw is dependable and the Indians have absolutely been lucky to have him these last three years.
Shaw was acquired in December 2012 from the Arizona Diamondbacks and spent the 2013 season pitching mostly in the 6th and 7th innings for the Tribe. He did well that year, posting a 3.24 ERA and 3.07 FIP.
Shaw established himself as the eighth inning guy for the Indians in 2014, pitching in a league-high 80 games and recording a 2.59 ERA and 3.42 FIP. His strikeout rate did drop almost a full strikeout per nine (8.76 K/9 to 7.55 K/9) but, all in all, it was another successful year for the right-hander.
There was concern heading into this year that Shaw's heavy workload would negatively affect him, and some early-season struggles brought even more questions. He allowed at least one baserunner in each of his first five appearances and through the middle of April had a dismal 7.71 ERA.
Thankfully, the small sample police don't work in the Tribe's front office, and Shaw was allowed to work through his initial struggles. By the end of May, Shaw had made 24 appearances and lowered his ERA to 2.65. He kept plugging along and was even better in June and July, giving up just two earned runs over those months and now was the owner of a dazzling 1.77 ERA.
A few poor outings in late summer added to that ERA, but ultimately, Shaw's 2015 season was another productive one. The right-hander finished 3-3 with a 2.95 ERA, 4.01 FIP, and a 7.59 K/9 rate. Yes, that high FIP is of concern and shows Shaw's shortcomings, which include just an average strikeout rate and an increase in home runs allowed, but shouldn't be used to dismiss Shaw's productivity.
Shaw will be 28 next season, so he's still plenty young, but does have a lot of miles on his arm from the last three years with the Tribe. Count me a bit worried, but not overly so. Shaw's track record shows he has handled the workload just fine so far and his clean delivery helps avoid adding stress to his shoulder and arm. Shaw is arbitration eligible again, and while I don't see the Tribe trying to lock him up on a multi-year deal, almost certainly he will be brought back and be counted on to provide solid late inning relief again in 2016.