Langwell becoming a reliable arm out of the 'pen
It didn’t take long for reliever Matt Langwell to realize he was finally in the big leagues after being called up by the Cleveland Indians on June 1. In fact, it only took two pitches.
Langwell’s first pitch to Tampa Bay third baseman and three-time All-Star Evan Longoria was a ball. His second, a fastball around the knees, resulted in a lofty two-run home run into the right field stands.
“I went in there and gave up a home run to the first batter but I didn’t think the pitch was too bad so you know, it was a ‘Welcome to the Big Leagues’ kind of thing and I just went after the next guy and kept attacking,” Langwell said.
He settled down after that, fanning first baseman James Loney on a called-third strike to end the eighth inning and followed that up by tossing a scoreless ninth.
The right-hander was modest in his five appearances with Cleveland, posting a 1-0 record in 5.1 innings with a 5.06 earned run average to go along with six strikeouts and two walks. He allowed just one more run following his debut.
Langwell was optioned back to Triple-A Columbus on June 18 to make room for third baseman Lonnie Chisenhallon the 25-man roster. He was then recalled for game two of a doubleheader against the Chicago White Sox on June 29 where he notched his first career win.
Hours after the victory, Langwell was again optioned back to the Clippers and replaced by fellow right-hander Joe Martinez.
Despite his brief stints with the big league club, Langwell quickly noticed the talent differential from the minor leagues to the majors.
“I mean of course the hitters are more consistent and you know, that’s the main thing,” Langwell said. “You just have to make your pitches and always try to make quality pitches at all times up there.”
Five years after being selected by the Indians in the 11th-round of the 2008 First-Year Player Draft, the 27-year-old said his first taste of the big leagues was a humbling and rewarding experience.
“It was great,” Langwell said. “It’s something I’ve been working for and looking forward to for a long time.”
Langwell began turning heads within the organization after cranking out a stellar Spring Training where he compiled a 1.86 ERA with eight punch outs and two free passes in 9.2 frames of work.
Even though he didn’t make Cleveland’s Opening Day roster, the reliever continued to pitch well for the Clippers, becoming one of the bullpen’s most dependable arms. In 20 appearances before his call-up, Langwell was 2-1 with an astounding 2.30 ERA in 27.1 innings. He also recorded a save and struck out 23 batters against 12 walks.
The relief pitcher has only added to his impressive Triple-A numbers since his MLB baptism. He’s racked up a 1-1 record with a 3.00 ERA in ten appearances in that time.
On the season for Columbus, Langwell sits at 3-2 with a 2.55 ERA and two saves in 30 games (42.1 innings). He’s made 35 opponents whiff and walked 18 of them. Arguably his most impressive statistic is that he’s only allowed two home runs all year between the Clippers and Indians.
Langwell said that he has generated the majority of his success in 2013 from his discipline and the fashion in which he challenges hitters.
“I just try to throw everything in the zone no matter the count or the situation,” Langwell said. “I try to get ahead of hitters and then attack from there.”
Columbus manager Chris Tremie had nothing but praise for his pitcher, commending his ability to work fast and keep the ball down in the zone.
“He’s a good relief pitcher,” Tremie said. “He comes out. He throws strikes and has good command of his fastball. He’s been working on his secondary pitches and that’s gotten better too.”
But the thing that impresses Tremie the most about Langwell is the leadership role the pitcher has taken upon himself.
“His presence around the other guys is another big thing,” Tremie said. “What he does in the clubhouse, what he does in his work and everything he’s an example and he talks to other people. So not only his performance but also the other things that go into it are really a positive thing for him.”
Now that he’s back in the minors, Langwell is just going about his business the way he usually does. He knows that when the time is right, he will get another opportunity to show the big league club that he can carry his success to the next level.
“I’m just doing the same thing,” Langwell said of being back with the Clippers. “Just trying to attack guys and stay ahead of hitters and try to get outs no matter where I’m at.”
As for Adams, I think he should be in Columbus and is my second-rated reliever in the system, personally. Overpowering and looks all the way back from shoulder surgery.
Preston Guilmet - 2.05 ERA, 57 K's in 48 innings
Matt Langwell - 2.55 ERA, 35 K's in 42 innings
Bryan Price - 3.49 ERA, 51 K's in 38 innings
Nick Hagadone - 1.06 ERA, 27 K's in 17 innings
CC Lee - 2.84 ERA, 12 K's in 6 innings
Langwell is the only one with fewer K's than innings pitched and he also has 18 walks allowed. Hagadone also has control problems. But the numbers don't always tell the story, especially for relievers who can come in with men on base, give up two hits which allow two runs to score, and then get the third out and actually lower their ERA.
Who's the best of this bunch and where does Austin Adams fit in?