The Indians made their move for a left-handed reliever Tuesday afternoon a day before the MLB Trade Deadline passed. It wasn't who anyone thought it was, of course. After flirting with the Rockies for Josh Outman, the Indians went out and nabbed left-hander Marc Rzepczynski from the St. Louis Cardinals in exchange for minor league infielder Juan Herrera.
The lefty reliever was recently recalled to the major league squad and pitched the past two games, a scoreless frame in the seventh with a strikeout and two runs in 1.1 innings on Monday. His overall major league numbers this year look awful, having surrendered nine earned runs in 10.1 innings with nine strikeouts and four walks.
He was sent to Triple-A Memphis in April after a rough start and compiled a 3.07 ERA in 44 innings with 61 strikeouts, faring much better overall. Versus left-handers in Triple-A, Rzepczynski held hitters to a .207 average with no home runs.
Career-wise, he's held hitters to a .224 average against with just five career home runs given up to lefties. He's certainly someone who fares much better against them than right-handers.
This looks to be the left-handed reliever move the Indians have needed to make. He won't and should not come in to face right-handed pitchers, at all, and should be someone to come in to matchup against the left-handers only. He's a former starter, so he could give you innings if needed, but if he's used mainly to match up later in the game against a left-hander, he should fit well into the plan.
The Indians as a whole are holding hitters to a .242 average against left-handers, which is third best in the American League. But they've struggled to find someone other than Rich Hill to come out of their pen to face left-handed hitters. Hill has proved effective against left-handes, with them hitting just .190 off of him, however he too has struggled against right-handers and having been needed to pitch against them.
Now with a second left-hander, the Indians can play the matchup game a lot more and get the most out of both guys. I like the move because of the numbers that are present. He can't face righties, they just hit him way too hard. But if he's effectively used to matchup and be that guy to just face lefties, I think it should work out well.
And additionally, the Indians gave up virtually nothing in a minor league prospect. Herrera was in Mahoning Valley hitting .275, and has spend the past few years working his way up from the Dominican Summer League, to the Arizona League, and finally now short-season rookie ball. He's put up okay numbers hitting wise and is still very young at 20, but it is way too early to tell if it is anything. And the Indians are pretty well stocked on middle infielders, as Herrera played a majority of his games at short and second combined.
There is no telling who they'll jettison to make room for Rzepczynski in the major league pen, but they have designated Columbus' Joe Martinez to make room for him on the 40-man roster.
If I didn't learn how to spell Rcepczynski off hand without looking after that, I probably never will.
Nope, never will. Thankfully, we can just call him scrabble.