The Indians added a huge piece to their bullpen when they traded for Brad Hand. Hand is an impact arm at the back of the bullpen and should most definitely garner the attention of this trade, but with that being said, we can’t lose sight of the “other guy” coming to the Indians in this trade as well. The Indians sent Francisco Mejia to the Padres for Hand AND Adam Cimber. Cimber is just as big a piece in this trade as is Hand, and he should have a big role in the Indians bullpen for years to come, considering he has five years of team control after this season.
Cimber is a great arm to have in the bullpen because he gives it a unique new look. The former Padre is a side armed righty, and because of the way he throws his fastball it actually rises up in the zone. But despite such a unique fastball, his best pitch is actually his sinker, which has been a very effective pitch this season, contributing to his 53.1 percent ground ball rate. Since the side armed pitcher is good at getting ground balls, he also doesn’t allow many home runs. He also doesn’t walk many guys (1.84 walks per nine), so he is great at disrupting what hitters are trying to do in this day in age (there has been a notable rise in “three true outcome” guys). Cimber averages only 0.37 homers per nine innings. Another great quality for the sidewinder is his ability to get strike batters out. His 9.37 strikeouts per nine will not blow you away, but it is certainly a nice bonus considering how good he is at generating ground balls. He also has the ability to finish out this year even stronger than he has been pitching to this point. He carries a 3.12 ERA but only has a 2.34 FIP- this may be partially be a result of his high BABIP, which is currently at .318.
What type of role can we expect Cimber to have in the bullpen? As it stands right now, I would expect him to get the bulk of his work in the sixth and seventh innings. He could also be used in situations where the Indians are trying to get a ground ball double play. In the postseason he use may vary more and he may be uses anywhere between the fifth-eighth innings. I would imagine Hand would be the go to guy and would serve an Andrew Miller like role taking the most difficult innings, while Cimber would work around Hand. Speaking of Miller, when healthy the lefty could push the newly acquired righty back a bit in the pen. However, I doubt it would be anything too significant as he seems to be the fourthth-best relief option in that scenario. He would also most likely be set up to get tough right-handed batter outs. Allowing only a .215/.229/.266 batting line against righties, Cimber seems primed to get those outs moving forward.
Although the acquisition of Cimber is being overshadowed by Brad Hand, the “other guy” in the Mejia trade is going to have an impact on the Indians for many years. The move to acquire the righty lengthens the bullpen for not only this year but for years to come. The presence of Cimber in the Indians bullpen could help bring it to a new level, as well as make us miss Mejia just a bit less.