Francona values Shaw's stamina, honesty

Francona values Shaw's stamina, honesty

MINNEAPOLIS -- After Indians setup man Bryan Shaw blew a save a little more than one month ago, marking a third straight rough outing for the pitcher, manager Terry Francona was adamant in his defense of the reliever. Francona said he did not even want to consider looking for an alternative for the eighth inning.

Francona's support, which could have been viewed as stubbornness by fans fed up with Shaw's sporadic struggles, has been backed up by the right-hander's recent showing. An impressive two-inning performance on Saturday night extended Shaw's shutout streak to 13 consecutive appearances, dating back to a June 14 meltdown in Kansas City.

"I've wondered why people don't ask me about him," Francona said on Sunday morning. "Everybody wanted him off the team and released, and I didn't understand that. He's a good pitcher. Sometimes, good players, good pitchers, struggle. This is going on four years now where he has shouldered a load, and his stuff is better than when we got him, which is a big compliment to him and what he's doing. He's really been good."

Shaw's blown save on June 14 -- when Francona said "I don't want an alternative" after being pressed on the issue by reporters -- gave him four runs allowed in a three-game (two total innings) stretch. Since then, Shaw has spun 13 1/3 shutout innings, while holding batters to a .372 OPS. In fact, it has been a handful of collapses that have skewed Shaw's overall performance.

On the season, Shaw has a 3.72 ERA in 38 2/3 innings over 43 games. Eleven of the 16 earned runs the righty has allowed have come within 2 1/3 innings, or six percent of his entire workload. To put it another way, Shaw has turned in a 1.24 ERA in 94 percent of his innings this year.

In some corners, Francona has heard the opinion that Shaw has been overworked. Over the 2013-15 seasons, the reliever averaged 72 innings and 75 games for Cleveland, posting a 2.93 ERA in that three-year span. The manager does not believe that workload has anything to do with the pitcher's few rough appearances this year.

"He's unbelievable, man," Francona said. "He loves to pitch, and it's not as easy as it looks to make yourself available all [the time], to be ready like that. One, you can say it, but you've got to get them out, first of all. It's valuable, man. You go a whole year, there's a handful of days where he's not available. That's pretty amazing. And his ability to be honest is good, because when he needs it, he'll tell me, which is really helpful."

Other items of note
• Indians left fielder Michael Brantley (60-day disabled list) was in the lineup for Double-A Akron on Sunday, following a game with the same affiliate on Friday. Brantley should be close to playing in consecutive games. It is possible that he will also move his Minor League rehab up to Triple-A Columbus this week, considering Akron will be on the road and the Clippers will be at home.

• Before Friday's game at Target Field, cameras caught Francona kissing one of Carlos Santana's bats. Asked about it, the manager laughed and said Santana (career-best .497 slugging percentage through 89 games) asks him to do that before every game. Said Francona: "Whatever works, man."

• The Indians traded Triple-A left-hander Ross Detwiler to the A's in exchange for cash considerations on Friday. The 30-year-old lefty opened the season in Cleveland's bullpen, but he was sent to Triple-A after posting a 5.79 ERA in seven games. Detwiler posted a 4.60 ERA in 12 starts for Columbus this year.

Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.