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All-Aught Indians: RP3: Paul Shuey (2000-2002)

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Paul Shuey

Paul Shuey

Paul Shuey was a flame-throwing, right-handed reliever, who never seemed to pitch as good as you thought he could. I suppose that wasn’t really the lead-in you would expect for the third player in the pen.

This Lima, OH native had three plus pitches, starting with a blazing fastball with movement, a splitter, and a superb, late-breaking curveball. When the Indians drafted Shuey in 1992 out of the University of North Carolina, they believed they had their closer of the future. Unfortunately, a variety of injuries and a propensity to walk batters under pressure situations kept him from becoming that closer. It didn’t, however, keep Shuey from becoming a productive set-up man.

The All-Aught Indians relief pitcher #3 is Paul Shuey.

Shuey was the second pick in the first round of the 1992 draft, and the Indians and everyone else figured that Shuey was going to be a monster closer in the future. Cleveland first called Shuey up in 1994, straight from Single A Kinston, and made him their closer. He ultimately saved five games, but after imploding in back-to-back games in June, the Indians sent him down to Buffalo for the rest of the season.

Over the rest of the nineties, Shuey consistently showcased his wicked stuff, consistently was on the dl, and consistently proved that he was a set-up man, and not a steady closer.

In 2000, Shuey continued to dazzle and frustrate at the same time. In April, Shuey was one of the best relievers in baseball. He recorded five holds, going 1-0 with a 0.84 ERA, had 10 strikeouts & 7 walks and gave up only two hits in 10 2/3 innings pitched.

In May, his hip began to bother him, and his ERA would rise to a high of 3.10 before going on the DL on May 21. He missed five weeks after hip surgery.  He returned in late June, and made 40 more appearances. Overall, Shuey led the AL in holds, with 28, while going 4-2 with a 3.39 ERA. Opponents only averaged .219 against him. He struck out 69 batters and walked 30 batters. Another solid year, albeit a frustrating one.

2001 would be a similar scenario for Shuey. He was one of the better relievers in baseball through June 12, going 5-3 with six holds and a 2.60 ERA before an elbow injury put him on the dl once again. It was his ninth time on the dl in his career. He came back at the end of June better than ever. Over the next ten games, he added two more holds with a 1.59 ERA. The Indians put Shuey back on the dl on July 23 until September with another elbow injury. Overall, Shuey posted a 2.82 ERA in 47 games and 54 1/3 innings. He struck out 70, with 26 walks.

Shuey blazed in 2002. He didn’t give up a run in his first 15 appearances, holding six games, and going 1-0. He gave up just six hits and five walks during the stretch, while striking out 11 over the 14 total innings. His ERA during June was 0.00. His ERA in May was 0.69. He had one bad outing in June, but ended up on the dl for the 11th time in his career, this time for a groin pull. He was back in late June, and ]continued his torrid pitching. He gave up only three more runs through July 24th. That was the day he was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers, ending his tenure as an Indian.

The 2002 season was his best yet. He ended the season with the Tribe having gone 3-0 with 12 holds, 39 K’s, 10 walks and a .225 average against. Shuey will forever be remembered as a vastly talented reliever who could never quite be the closer people wanted him to be. Instead, he was just a fine, fine reliever.

He ended the decade with the Tribe having gone 12-5, with 12 saves, 47 holds, 178 strikeouts, 66 walks and a 2.95 ERA. Imagine what could have happened had he been healthy. Even with the injuries, he was still nearly as good as it gets. Just take a look at his K/9’s during that stretch, and you can see what made him tantalizing. Of course, injuries and walks always kept him from taking the next step, but the fact that he was still solid lets you know just how talented he was.

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