Sunday, April 17, 2011

Joe Smith Activated, Frank Herrmann Optioned to AAA

This spring the Indians lost reliever Joe Smith to an abdominal strain, but with his DL stint finished, he's ready to return and the team has chosen to option reliever Frank Hermann to AAA.

Smith, who is scheduled to make 870k during this, his first arbitration eligible season threw 40 innings over 53 appearances for the Indians in 2010 and figures to remain an important 7th inning option for the team. He's one of the few right handed pitchers in baseball who's better known as a righty specialist, something that's more typically associated with left handed pitchers. But when you look at Smith's phenomenal success against righties - career .624 OPS - against the .915 OPS he's allowed to lefties, it's startling.

When combined with lefty specialist Tony Sipp, the pairing allows Indians Manager Manny Acta to play matchups in the middle innings, and setup the game for his late inning relievers or to get key outs in higher leverage situations.

For his part, Herrmann is a limited pitcher. He brings plus command but doesn't miss bats despite bringing a solid 93/94 mph fastball to the game. He's also likely to struggle with home runs given his poor ground ball rate. The combination of poor strikeout and ground ball rates means Herrmann is never likely to be more than a 6th inning or mop up option but he'll continue to provide the team with AAA depth.

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