I felt that, due to the Indians’ need for another starter and the numbers Banwart has posted for the Clippers in 2014, that he deserved an opportunity in Cleveland. To me, it just seemed to make sense. He might not have been a long-term answer, but he pitched well enough to at least justify a spot start in the big leagues. He still hasn’t pitched in the majors, and now could not have been a better time.
But it appears that Banwart won’t be pitching in Cleveland — or in the majors, or even in North America — for the foreseeable future.
RHP Travis Banwart placed on the Temporarily Inactive List at Columbus due to a pending deal with SK Wyverns in Korea.
— Cleveland Indians (@tribeinsider) July 4, 2014
I’ll be back when I’m done crying. I might be a while, so in the mean time…ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Conway Twitty!
(A long time has passed.)
Okay guys, I’m back.
Anyway, as you can probably tell, the news of Banwart’s departure hit me pretty hard.
"@tribeinsider: RHP Travis Banwart placed on the Temporarily Inactive List at Columbus due to a pending deal with SK Wyverns in Korea."
— Michael Chaney (@MChaney317) July 4, 2014
Let’s not forget that I typed a frowning face instead of just using an emoji. That takes a lot these days.
Banwart, 28, was originally a 4th-round pick of the A’s in the 2007 draft from Wichita State. The Indians signed him to a minor league contract in December and invited him as a non-roster invitee to spring training.
I can’t really describe why I liked Banwart so much; I just did. However, I wouldn’t have advocated for the Indians giving him a chance in Cleveland if he hadn’t been pitching well, and with the impressive numbers he had with Columbus — not to mention the hot streak he had recently been on (he’s the reigning International League Pitcher of the Week), he seemed like a decent candidate to pitch in the majors.
That’s not to say that simply promoting Banwart would have been the answer to the Indians’ issues in the rotation this season (because they still would have needed to add another starter), but a team can never have enough pitching options.
Banwart had gone 5-2 with a 3.12 ERA (3.99 FIP) in 89 1/3 innings for the Clippers. Over that time, he accumulated 78 strikeouts and 33 walks, good for a K/BB ratio of 2.36.
The Indians’ rotation, meanwhile, ranks 25th in baseball with a 4.54 ERA. Indians starters have also combined to pitch just 482 innings in 2014, which is the second-worst in the majors. Only the Rockies, who have received 480 innings from their starters, are worse in that category. Banwart probably wouldn’t have been the savior (but he’s Travis Banwart, so maybe he would have been), but he had done everything he could have to warrant a promotion.
The SK Wyverns, members of the KBO (Korean Baseball Organization), are currently 30-41 this season. I’m not going to pretend like I’ve heard of many of their players (or that I can pronounce their names), but the team’s roster includes former major league pitchers Ross Wolf and Jo-Jo Reyes, as well as outfielder (and former Indians farmhand) Luke Scott.
The problem for the SK Wyverns in 2014 has been pitching, as the team has a combined 5.67 ERA. Only one pitcher who has started a game for the team this season has an ERA below 5.00: left-hander Gwang-hyun Kim, who has a 3.79 mark in 92 2/3 innings on the year. Banwart can surely help his new team, but I feel like he could have helped the Indians as well.
Clippers manager Chris Tremie told the Columbus Dispatch the following about Banwart’s departure:
It’s been ongoing for a week or so. We wish him all the luck in the world. He was a great teammate and a valuable starter for us.
I completely agree with Tremie. I’d just like to thank Banwart for what he’s done with Columbus this season, and I wish him the best of luck in South Korea.
Hopefully he’ll receive a major league opportunity someday.