Aaron Laffey deserves a round of applause.
A baseball team meeting expectations, especially lofty ones, requires that a substantial number of players meet their expectations. Obviously, there is some room for overachievers and underachievers but when staring at spring training box scores we are objectively trying to figure out "most likely" scenarios for each player. Once figured, these scenarios are totaled to create season expectations. To put it more concisely, the Indians would be good if most players would simply go and do their jobs.
I'm not interested in drawing some blue-collared line in the sand but I would like to recognize Laffey for not only doing his job but also for doing other people's jobs. At the end of spring training Aaron was ostensibly starting pitching depth; within days, Laffey was in Cleveland when Scott Lewis went down with an injury, making it impossible for Lewis to do his job.
No sweat, Aaron said. I'll do Scott's job-I thought it should've been my job anyway. He gave the Indians an average Game Score of 48, exactly league average. Of all the starting pitchers, only Cliff Lee has averaged a Game Score of 48 or better-that is, no other starter has managed to simply be league average in this department. Over the span of his four starts, Laffey was unarguably one of the Indians top three starter and arguably the Indians second best starter; this wasn't terribly surprising but it was coming from a player who wasn't even in the rotation on opening day. Laffey helped the Indians get three wins in his four starts and was stabilizing the rotation.
And then, it was decided that Aaron Laffey, a player who seems to have every chance to be an above average major league starter, was going to be moved to the bullpen because nearly every pitcher in the bullpen was failing at his job. The move was reasonable but still a little shocking. No sweat, Aaron said. I'll do Perez', Lewis', Masa's, and everyone else's job.
Laffey has taken to the bullpen with aplomb and immediately become a rather remarkable reliever-a totally lights out long man. His ERA out of the 'pen is 1.35, he has allowed 0% of inherited runners to score, he has a 5:1 K:BB ratio and he's averaging 2.1 innings per appearance. Laffey has basically transformed from Jake Westbrook, 2007 into Bruce Sutter, 1981, instantaneously.
Now, all of this is early returns and Laffey's apperances this year should be viewed through the lens labeled "small samples." However, in a season where Indians fans' have justifiably felt let down by pitchers from Fausto Carmona to Rafael Perez I thought it was important to acknowledge one guy who has simply done what was asked of him, no matter if it was an ideal scenario for him or not. Laffey has shown that he is not a pitcher that needs to be coddled, cajoled, or coerced into performing well; he is just a pitcher that you'd like to have on the mound anytime he's available.