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Cleveland Indians took a flyer on Jeff Manship and it paid off big time

Insert boat pun here.

David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

For a reliever, ERA can be a fickle thing--have one or two bad games and it will look bad for the entire season, no matter how good you were (see: Cody Allen). However, when your name is Jeff Manship and you only allow four runs over 32 appearances, ERA can be pretty flattering.

Manship’s season did not even start in the Majors. Instead, he began 2015 playing for the Triple-A Columbus Clippers after signing a minor league deal with the Cleveland Indians prior to the season. He pitched well in Columbus over his 31.2 innings of work, with a 1.99 ERA and 3.28 FIP.

When starter Shaun Marcum was designated for assignment on June 18, Manship got his call-up to the big leagues for the first time as a member of the Tribe. At the time, the Indians infield defense was atrocious, and his Manship’s high ground ball rate made him a prime candidate to be burned when he started making appearances. That was not the case at all, however, as Manship was great in his first four appearances, allowing no runs and striking out three batters.

Manship’s second, and longest, appearance of the season came in the midst of a blowout against the Detroit Tigers. Trevor Bauer had a vintage meltdown and allowed seven runs in only three innings, leaving the bullpen to pick up the slack. Manship came in for the final three innings and held the Tigers to only a single hit and no zero runs.

The majority of Manship’s appearances were in similar, low-leverage situations, but he did exactly what he was called upon to do: come into the game, stop the bleeding, or just fill up space during a blowout.

Because he only threw 39.1 innings on the season, he is not considered a qualified reliever, but among AL relievers with at least 30 innings, he ranked first in ERA and 17th in FIP. He was basically the Wade Davis of low-leverage situations.

Although he is 30 years old and has a decent chance of being a one-hit wonder, he is still eligible for arbitration for another three years. His projected value in 2016, according to MLB Trade Rumors, is a measly $700k, so expect the Indians front office to windmill slam his offer on the table when that time comes unless they offer him something else ahead of time.

G GS IP K% BB% LOB% GB% ERA FIP WAR
Totals 32 0 39.1 7.6% 2.3% 91.2% 50.0% 0.92 2.63 0.6