Photo: USA Today
2021 season age: 33
Contract: Minor league contract
Height: 6’1; Weight: 232
2020 stats: 6 IP, 18.00 ERA (7.52 FIP) 4K/6BB, 3.17 WHIP
2020 in review: After the Colorado Rockies released him at the end of the three-year contract they signed him to after his time in Cleveland came to an end in 2017, Shaw spent the 2020 pandemic shortened season in Seattle with the Mariners where his decline continued. You can see by the numbers that Shaw’s performance has fallen off a cliff every year since he left Cleveland and 2020 was no different, even in just a short six-game, six-inning sample. In 2019 in a larger sample, he had a 5.38 ERA (5.19 FIP) in 72 games with 58 strikeouts, 29 walks and a 1.36 WHIP.
On the mound: Shaw’s arsenal hasn’t changed from his days as stalwart in Cleveland’s bullpen. He relied on his cutter 62.1% of the time in 2020 (92.6 mph average), pairs it with his slider (17% – 83.2 mph), throws a curveball (16.3%) and a sparse changeup here and there (4.6%). Shaw’s cutter velocity is down from about from about 93-94 to 92-93 now and it looks like he’s ditched his four seam fastball the last two seasons completely. He was never a strikeout artist in his best days in Cleveland, averaging something like a strikeout per inning, but relied on getting ground balls, suppressing and contact quality to overcome his subpar command.
Beyond the stats: Looking below the hood to try to find some positives or something interesting that points to Shaw being able to have anything left in the tank, the engine looks pretty rough. Throwing out six innings in 2020, in 2019 Shaw allowed the highest average exit velocity of his career (90 mph), the lowest K% of his career (18), and all of his pitches gave up a lot of hard contact and extra bases. In those few 2020 outings, his groundball rate went back up to a career norm, 55%, back up from the 48.5% he ran in Colorado. Maybe it had something to do with getting out of Coors. According to reports, Shaw has lost some weight and corrected some mechanical issues he said he was having.
2021 role: Shaw will have to battle in spring to prove that he’s over his three year slump in his first post-Cleveland stint to make the bullpen. There might be a spot or two up for grabs and Cleveland does like to find at least one veteran arm to put in the bullpen to serve as experience while keeping some players with options in the minors with depth. The problem with proving it in the spring is that Shaw historically is awful in spring training, and admittedly so. The staff will have to look at his velocity, movement and ask him how his arm is bouncing back to get a gauge on if Shaw is capable of pitching in the majors effectively in 2021. He probably has an uphill battle to make it given how the last three years have gone for him unless his conditioning and mechanical tweaks did the trick.
Fantasy impact: None. Even if Shaw makes the team, don’t draft him in any league whatsoever. If he somehow finds the magic elixir and fountain of youth to get some holds or maybe saves for Cleveland, make him prove it in numbers before considering adding him as a free agent claim.