Shaw astounds Tribe with increased velocity

Reliever, coaches can't explain uptick in pitch speed down stretch

Shaw astounds Tribe with increased velocity

ANAHEIM -- Bryan Shaw punctuated a two-inning save for the Indians vs. the Angels on Wednesday night by firing a cutter past the potent bat of American League Most Valuable Player Award candidate Mike Trout. The pitch popped into the glove of catcher Roberto Perez at 97 mph, continuing a recent trend for Cleveland's setup man.

Shaw's fastball velocity has continuously ticked up as the days have been checked off. According to Statcast™, the right-hander averaged 93.9 mph on his cutter in June, but that rate has increased to 95.4 mph so far in September. Shaw hit 99 mph on the radar gun on Sunday, and eight of his 10 hardest pitches this year have come this month.

What is Shaw's explanation for the late-summer surge in pitch speed?

"I don't have one," Shaw said with a shrug. "I legitimately don't have one. I really don't know how or why it's ticked up a little bit. It could be getting the trade for Smitty, giving me a little extra rest here or there. That's really the only thing I can think of that's changed."

Shaw was referring to righty Joe Smith, who was acquired prior to the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline to help lengthen out Cleveland's bullpen. That addition, however, does not really explain it, either. Shaw accounted for 15.4 percent of all of the Tribe's relief innings prior to the team adding Smith, and the setup man had logged 17.5 percent of the team's bullpen innings (through Wednesday) since the sidearmer came into the fold.

Like Shaw, Indians pitching coach Mickey Callaway did not have a clear answer.

"I can't explain it," Callaway said. "I don't know if it's just we're in a position where it's really exciting toward the end because we know the playoffs are imminent and he's just stepping it up or what. It's been pretty good. I don't have an explanation mechanically or anything like that."

Manager Terry Francona noted that Shaw had a similar increase down the stretch a year ago, too. Per Statcast™, the right-hander averaged 94.5 mph last Septmber, compared to 93.9 mph across July and August a year ago.

"He does that every year," Francona said. "He's happy-go-lucky, and everybody sees that, but he does all his arm stuff. He does his throwing. He's got a pretty good program, and for as much as he pitches, it's amazing. As the year goes, he gets stronger."

Worth noting
• Second baseman Jose Ramirez was out of the lineup on Thursday to give him a day to rest a sore left hamstring, but the issue is not serious, per Francona. The manager was going to give either Ramirez or Francisco Lindor a day off from starting, and he opted to go with the second baseman.

• Indians president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti and general manager Mike Chernoff are on the trip in order to begin the process of discussing the potential postseason roster. Paul Dolan, the team's chairman and chief executive officer, was already on the West Coast and joined the team in Anaheim.

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 Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.