We don't have a crying need right now for another RH short reliever, but I think Lewis might be a worthwhile use of a waiver claim and roster spot anyway. He's been a quality arm at the middle of the Indians ' bullpen for parts of the last four seasons, putting up a 3.68 ERA (115 ERA+) and 1.36 WHIP in 198 innings in that time frame (his career xFIP is higher, but still respectable at 4.48). He misses a fair number of bats (8.0 career ML K/9), periodically struggles with his command (3.9 career ML BB/9), and has been much more effective against righties (.658 OPS) than lefties (.816 OPS).
His main pitch is a sinker, and he also throws a solid changeup and an occasional slider. The velocity on the sinker is difficult to pin down. His pitch data on Fangraphs has his fastball averaging a hair under 90, but most written scouting reports I've seen list him more in the 91-to-93 range, and some go even higher. Unusually for a sinkerball guy, he has moderate flyball tendencies. Lewis also has kind of a strange delivery, particularly on his folllow-through, which may account for his periodic command issues. This footage is fairly old, but it will give you the flavor of what I'm talking about.
Lewis is on the chopping block right now as a result of several factors. First, he's delivered awful results this spring, allowing 13 hits and three walks in only 5 2/3 innings. Second, the Indians have several up-and-coming relievers who have pitched very well in the early going, such as Vinnie Pestano. Third, Jason Donald 's injury creates a need for a 40-man roster spot for his temporary replacement, Jack Hannahan. Fourth, Lewis is out of options.
I'm moderately concerned by Lewis's wildness this spring, but at the same time, I don't think that six spring games should entirely cancel out four years' worth of mostly-effective performances on the ML level. He's relatively affordable at $650k, and he's under control for two more years through arbitration. His 2011 ZiPS projection calls for a 4.28 ERA (99 ERA+) and 1.42 WHIP in 75 2/3 innings, which is decent production for a cheap middle reliever. I'd probably take a chance on him over a guy like Chris Leroux or Daniel McCutchen for the final spot in the bullpen, particularly with the injuries to Joe Beimel and Scott Olsen potentially opening up some spots. What do you think?
Claim Jensen Lewis on waivers?
Yea! (264 votes)
Nay! (126 votes)
Wha? (45 votes)
435 total votes