"When Huffy came up, it was a chance to get a look at him and keep him in the organization," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "It let Nick [Hagadone] go down [to Triple-A] and pitch. You say it all the time in Spring Training, that you need more than your 11 or 12, and we meant that. So even though there's roster changes, it's not as in flux as it looks. It keeps guys in their roles."
This season, however, the Tribe has had inconsistent results from its lefty bullpen options.
The quartet of Rich Hill, Hagadone, Barnes and Huff combined for a 6.16 ERA, allowing 24 runs (21 earned) with 21 walks in 30 2/3 innings. Left-handed relief was also an issue in 2012, when the club cycled through seven southpaws, who teamed for a 4.53 ERA over 143 innings.
General manager Chris Antonetti said it is most important to have reliable relief pitching throughout the bullpen.
"Some of the right-handers have done an exceptional job," Antonetti said. "Cody Allen's done a great job. Bryan Shaw's done a great job. Our focus is having pitchers out there that are capable of getting out left-handed hitters or right-handed hitters, regardless of what hand they throw with. I think we have a group of guys out there that are really effective in getting both groups of hitters out."
Huff, who was called up from Triple-A on May 13, appeared in three games this season for the Indians and surrendered five runs on seven hits in three innings. In the fifth inning of Cleveland's 11-7 loss to Detroit on Wednesday, Huff yielded three runs in a 29-pitch outing.
Huff, 28, has gone 18-26 with a 5.40 ERA in 58 career games (52 starts) in parts of five seasons for the Indians, who selected him in the first round of the 2006 First-Year Player Draft. The lefty led the Indians in wins (11) as a rookie in 2009, but struggled to keep a spot on the big league staff in the following seasons. In Triple-A this year, Huff has gone 3-1 with a 4.07 ERA in 24 1/3 innings.
Barnes returns to the Indians for his third stint with the big league club this year. In his first three appearances, he posted a 4.50 ERA with four strikeouts in four innings, while holding hitters to a .077 average. In Columbus, the left-hander was 2-2 with a 5.74 ERA in 15 2/3 innings, in which he had 19 strikeouts against eight walks.
Barnes worked the final three innings of Thursday's 12-3 victory, allowing two hits and striking out four to record his first big league save.