Left-handed pitcher David Huff has experienced a series of peaks and valleys in his baseball career.
A stud coming out of UCLA, he was billed as the top pitcher in the Cleveland Indians system in 2008. After tearing through the minors, he was promoted to the big-league club for the 2009 season.
That year saw the Indians compile a horrid 65-97 record in what would be former AL Manager of the Year Eric Wedge's last season with the team. However, the rookie Huff was one of the bright spots in an otherwise dismal season.
He led the team in wins, compiling an 11-8 record. Although his 5.79 ERA was certainly nothing to write home about, the Indians were confident that the lefty would continue to develop into a top-of-the-rotation pitcher.
But the 2010 season had other plans for David Huff.
With the departures of Cliff Lee and Carl Pavano, Huff began the season as the only left-handed pitcher in the Indians' rotation, and he was bitten by a horrendous sophomore slump.
In roughly half a of season of work, Huff went 2-11, his ERA ballooned to 6.21 with a WHIP of almost 1.70 and he averaged almost 11.5 hits allowed per nine innings. Needless to say, by August Huff was sent to the minors to make way for other young pitchers the Indians were grooming.
The former top pitcher in the farm system was quickly becoming an afterthought.
Fast-forward to May 5, 2011: Huff logs three scoreless frames, earning the win in a 8-3 victory over the Chicago White Sox. He strikes two batters out and surrenders his first two hits of spring training.
In his first two appearances of the new year, Huff is 1-0, has not given up a run, has a WHIP of 0.40 and has notched five punch-outs in five innings.
Apparently, he's on a mission to make himself relevant again.
After the game, manager Manny Acta said the following: "I thought it was a well-pitched ballgame today. David Huff really pitched very well. He used all his pitches effectively. He threw some good breaking balls, which is good to see, and some good changeups. He set the tone."
In a season where Indians fans are relying on pleasant surprises to right the team's ship, one could come in the unexpected form of David Huff, who was run out of Cleveland midway through last year.
It seems like there will be quite a struggle for the fifth spot in the Indians' rotation, but don't be too surprised if Huff lodges his way in.
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