KANSAS CITY, Mo.: The Indians took a chance on Marc Rzepczynski and it paid off.
Fellow left-hander Nick Hagadone has been touted as a prospective back-end reliever, but the Tribe is still waiting for that hope to materialize.
Hagadone’s task hasn’t been limited to retiring opposing batters; he’s been on a season-long shuttle between Triple-A and the big leagues.
Because he had an option remaining when the year began, he has made five round trips between Cleveland and Columbus to create a roster spot for an acquired player or someone coming off the disabled list.
Has that made it more difficult for him to maintain his reliability?
“I think what’s hard was what happened in spring training, because he pitched well enough to make the club,” manager Terry Francona said.
Hagadone’s inconsistency over parts of three seasons hasn’t soured the organization on his potential.
“We can’t be the kind of team that runs away from our own guys,” Francona said. “He has the kind of stuff to retire left-handers and right-handers when he’s good.”
Even though Hagadone has spent lengthy stretches in the minors, he has made a career-high 35 big-league appearances, posting a 5.23 ERA in 31 innings. He has yielded only 20 hits but has walked 19, an average of 5.5 per nine innings. Hagadone also has struck out 30.
Rzepczynski has had success as a matchup lefty but not this year, when he came out of the St. Louis Cardinals’ bullpen only 11 times, pitching 10⅓ innings and compiling a 7.84 ERA.
Why did the Indians pursue him late in July?
“When [General Manager] Chris Antonetti talked about getting him, a couple of things stuck out,’’ Francona said. “He’s had late-season [and postseason] experience, and I saw him when he was with Toronto and liked him. Sometimes a change of scenery helps a guy, and this was a chance for him to pitch more.”
Rzepczynski has made 19 appearances for the Tribe. He did not allow an earned run in the first 13 and has yielded runs (two) in only one outing since for a 1.10 ERA. He has given up eight hits and five walks in 16⅓ innings.
Francona thinks that more work has had a positive effect on Rzepczynski.
“It seems like the more innings he’s worked,” Francona said, “the more his pitches move, and he’s shown better command.”
Sheldon Ocker can be reached at email@example.com. Read the Indians blog at http://www.ohio.com/indians. Follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/SheldonOckerABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.