Among potential free agents, left-handed bullpen arms seem to be among the most plentiful of any position. There are a couple of names that should be familiar to Indians fans, and a couple of veterans that should warrant consideration.
Miller is the type of bullpen weapon that can be utilized by Francona in multiple situations, not strictly against left-handed bats, and that versatility and dominance were on full display throughout the Tribe’s run to the World Series.
But what the team lacked, especially with Kyle Crockett suffering an injury on the eve of the playoffs, was a matchup lefty. Crockett figures to be in the team’s plans for 2017, but finding a veteran LOOGY (lefty one-out guy) would help bolster a unit that should be a strength of the team next season.
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Two names Cleveland is familiar with are Mark Rzepczynski and Ross Detwiler. Rzepczynski, better known as “Scrabble” because his name is so impossible to spell, was traded by the Indians to San Diego at the 2015 trade deadline, then shipped to the Oakland Athletics last December, and finally landed with the Washington Nationals in an August deal. In 70 games covering 47.2 innings in 2016, he went 1-0 with a 2.64 ERA, 1.57 WHIP, and an ERA+ of 154.
Like Rzepczynski, Detwiler is another former Tribe reliever, traded to Oakland this past July for cash considerations. He split time between the majors and minors in 2016, throwing just 4.2 innings for Cleveland. Oakland tried Detwiler out as a starter, and he was hit hard, with a 6.14 ERA, 11.5 hits per nine innings, and a WHIP of 1.614. Transitioning back to being a lefty specialist is likely the best career choice for the 30-year old at this point.
Two other names that should garner interest from the Indians are Travis Wood and Brett Cecil. Wood, a member of the Chicago Cubs, had his best big league season in his first as a full-time reliever. Appearing in 77 games during the regular season, he yielded an ERA of just 2.95 in 61 innings, racking up an ERA+ of 137. He also pitched in nine postseason games, allowing two runs on five hits.
Cecil is another lefty Cleveland saw during the postseason, though he’s coming off a bit of a down year. In 54 appearances covering 36.2 innings, he posted a 3.93 ERA and 109 ERA+, both of which were his worst marks since 2012.
While the Indians may or may not land any of these LOOGYs in free agency, they are the type of players that could be solid complementary pieces for the team at a more or less affordable price. Big money free agent relievers like Aroldis Chapman just aren’t going to happen.