Does Shaw warm up in a secret bunker beneath Progressive Field? I swear I never see him actually in the bullpen.— Let's Go Tribe (@LetsGoTribe) June 21, 2016
Tito sticking with Shaw and pitching him relentlessly. Came into tonight tied for 6th in MLB in appearances at 32. https://t.co/tubd6Mdza8— Jake Dungan (@JakeDBaseball) June 21, 2016
You have 8 pitchers in your bullpen. They are not all named Bryan Shaw— Danny Madden (@danny_madden) June 21, 2016
You got me thinking, twitter: what would happen if Terry Francona exclusively used Bryan Shaw? I don't just mean in relief. I mean every single inning of all 162 games. The ultimate Shaw Redemption.
To answer our questions, we turn to the wonderful simulator Out of the Park Baseball. Just how wonderful is Out of the Park? Put it this way: an old Jewish English professor of mine once confided during office hours, "Hell yeah I'm down with OOTP."
And so it begins. An entire Cleveland Indians season pitched exclusively by Bryan Shaw, regardless of fatigue, injury, or consciousness. In order to force the game to pitch Bryan Shaw under all circumstances, I forced every single pitcher on the 40-man roster to retire. Then, I pared away all of the substitutes. The AI will reach for a position player when things get really out of hand. In order to make up for the fact that all of the position players would also be forced to play every day, I slightly increased their durability.
Bryan Shaw received no buffs.
On opening day, things didn't go too well for Shaw.
He held it together pretty well and even had a shot to win it until the eighth inning got away from him. 160 pitches isn't completely unreasonable. Tim Lincecum threw 148 pitches during a start in 2013 while chasing a no hitter. The unofficial record for most pitches ever is 360, by Leon Cadore in 1920. This took 26 innings, however. Nonetheless, I felt that this could have been a lot worse for a first game. And with a day off before the second, maybe Shaw would be able to put together a decent game and give the virtual Tribe a chance to win.
Sweet merciful baby jesus. The most baffling thing to me is that after surrendering 31 runs, Bryan Shaw managed to shut the Red Sox out in the eighth inning.
It would be impractical to recap all 162 games, but I will provide the final stats and some of the highlights.
Bryan Shaw reached 200 innings pitched on May 3rd, good for -9.7 WAR.
I wanted to make sure the city of Cleveland came out to watch the torture every single night, so I started the season with the average ticket price at $5. Attendance held at a reasonable rate until about the middle of the season. I made admission completely free. Average attendance rose 27% from 2015. Come, watch the Warden break this man. Watch as the Warden grinds him into oblivion. Watch him hurl pitch after pitch with no feeling left in his arm, no cartilage in his elbow, no shred of meaning in his soul.
Then, on June 8th, something miraculous happened.
I'd like to think that the offense banded together in the dugout, furious at the blown save. "This is our only chance," Kipnis said. "If we want to have a win this season, we'll never be this close again. Last night we were down by 52 in the bottom of the ninth." One beautiful night in June that looked remarkably like a normal baseball game, played in front of a packed stadium. The Indians walked off on a single by Lonnie Chisenhall. "Wins have been hard to come by," he told reporters after the game.
The next day, the Indians were shutout 33-0. They proceeded to lose the rest of their games and finish the season at 1-161. The Tigers took the World Series in six games from the Mets, but that's not what we're here to see. Let's... let's just take a quick look at the final pitching statistics for the team.
I forgot that game in National League stadiums meant that one additional player would move to the bench while Shaw batted. As a result, 52.3 innings were pitched by players other than Bryan Shaw. No matter how you look at it, the numbers just aren't pretty. Most surprising to me is that Shaw only allowed 133 home runs. He plunked more guys than that. I see some spirit in that. Some fight. Not that it mattered; the Indians allowed exactly 5,000 runs, and scored only 732.
Not everything about the team reeked of torture. Some of the players actually put up excellent numbers on the year.
Francisco Lindor player about the way that you would expect, but Jason Kipnis and Carlos Santana played out of their minds. 41 home runs? Seriously? It will not shock you to learn that he also led the league in walks. Still, no amount of talent could make up for the fact that a half-dead, half-conscious husk of a man trotted out every day to pitch. Forced by an unseen hand to throw, throw, throw, on his way to a 1-158 record.
Bryan Shaw crawled through 1,324.1 innings of shit and came out alive. He finished second in the American League in strikeouts with 233. He threw 41,310 pitches.
Every man has his breaking point. For virtual Bryan Shaw, it came at the end of the season. I set the preferences to allow the AI to set up my entire organization, as I'd neglected to do so while simulating through the year. It immediately cut Bryan Shaw. No organization signed him during the offseason, all terrified of the zombie arm bolted to his shoulder.
I signed Shaw as a free agent. He willingly came back to the Indians for the league minimum. I added him to the starting rotation, and once again released the rest of the staff. I forced him to pitch another entire year.
And then another:
A man can tunnel out of a prison, but there's no tunneling out of hell. Here are the combined stats for those three years:
At the time this story hit the presses, Bryan Shaw was 0-41 with an ERA of 28.45 to start the 2019 season. Remember, this, Tribe fans, the next time you wonder whether or not Francona underutilizes the rest of the staff.