Who needs Vanna White and Pat Sajak when you have Chris Antonetti and Manny Acta?
Last week the Indians recalled lefty reliever Nick Hagadone when Asdrubal Cabrera went on the bereavement list and missed road games in Seattle and Oakland. Today the Indians activated Cabrera and optioned Hagadone back to Columbus.
A curious move, given Acta had a second chance to get it right.
Veteran Dan Wheeler should be the odd man out. Wheeler had a horrible Spring Training (10.64 ERA, 20 hits and 13 earned runs in 11 IP, 6 home runs allowed and a .417 average against) but made the roster in a surprise, likely because of a solid major league track record in middle relief (25-43, 3.89 over 12 years). Informed he made the team, Wheeler celebrated by going HR, HR, 1B, 2B and HR to blow a 5-1 lead against the Reds.
In six regular season games Wheeler has improved to a 5.40 ERA but with a high 1.60 WHIP, only 1 strikeout in 5 innings and several loud outs. He’s this year’s Chad Durbin, useful as filler on occasion but subject to implosion and not reliable in close games.
In contrast, Hagadone was not scored upon in 5.1 innings at Columbus and in 3 games with the Tribe yielded one run over 3.1 innings (a run tainted by a poor play from Jason Donald which allowed the runner to score from 2B on an infield single), and struck out 4 for an ERA of 2.70. He pitched well in the Spring (2.53 ERA in 9 games), throws hard, can pitch more than one inning if needed and offers a reliable alternative if the other LHs in the bullpen falter (which may happen).
Shoulder issues slowed Rafael Perez in Spring Training (6 games, 5 IP) and so far this season his velocity and effectiveness are down although he pitched 2 scoreless innings Sunday against Oakland. Already an arbitration player, he becomes increasingly expensive if he stays an Indian (i.e., is not traded) and his future with the team is uncertain. Meanwhile, Tony Sipp remains maddeningly inconsistent with an 11.47 ERA and high 2.14 WHIP after 7 games. Sipp and RPerez are basically matchup lefties at this point, unlike Hagadone.
Hagadone is the future now and offers better a better quality option than Wheeler. Strike two on Acta.