The endless cycle of demotions and waiver claims continues for some– namely Chad Beck– as the Jays announced in an official release this afternoon that the reliever has been designated for assignment in order to clear a spot on the 40-man for incoming lefty reliever Tommy Hottovy– a 31-year-old with 13.1 innings of big league experience– who is familiar with the drill himself, having just been placed on waivers by Texas, who dropped him to clear space for Lance Berkman. (He had been traded there earlier in the off-season from Kansas City for a PTBNL or cash).
The idea here is, quite obviously, to build some bullpen depth at Buffalo by sneaking guys through waivers. Beck was briefly a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates organization this winter, but was picked back up by the Jays last week. Now his fate is in limbo, kind of like Hottovy’s, despite the fact that he currently holds a spot on the 40-man.
If the Jays manage to sneak Hottovy through, they’ll actually be getting a somewhat intriguing pitcher– though not necessarily an effective one.
Looking at the basics he’s merely a lefty who, according to Pitch F/X, throws a slider, four-seamer and sinker, sitting around 88. He stalled at Double-A, spending parts of six seasons there (though he lost much of 2008 and ’09 to Tommy John), before finally breaking through to the Majors in 2011 after reinventing himself as a sidearmer– though, again, not necessarily reinventing himself as an effective one.
“Hottovy was never the same after he had Tommy John surgery, never regained the life on his fastball, so throwing side-armed was all about survival,” wrote Gordon Edes of ESPN Boston back in 2011, and indeed, at the minor league level, Hottovy has had some success. He’s struck out more than 20% of batters faced and kept walks reasonably in line over the last two seasons in the minors, though that hasn’t translated into the bigs.
In those mere 13.1 MLB innings, he walked over 11%, his strikeout rate tumbled to 14%, and while he posted a respectable-ish 4.05 ERA, it came with a 6.07 FIP, 5.49 xFIP, and a ghastly 7.88 tERA.
Let me put as positive a shine on that as possible: the sample size is terrifically small, he may still have some positive development to come with his new arm slot, and at the very least he has some utility for Buffalo… which… yeah.
“With my sidearm approach,” he told Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star this year, “90 percent of the time, my ball is sinking. It’s easy for me to keep the ball down because of the way I throw and the action the ball gets.”