2012 Age: 27
2012 WAR (Fangraphs): 1.0
2012 WAR (B-Ref): 2.1
2012 Salary: $491K (Renewable)
2013 Contract Status: Renewable (2.011 Service Time)
Of late one of the major themes here has been that the Indians haven't been able to develop their own talent; although there is some talent on this roster, most of that came via trades. But one area where the Indians need to get credit for development is the bullpen; while Chris Perez (Mark DeRosa) and Joe Smith (Franklin Gutierrez) came via the standard veteran-for-prospect trade (or in Smith's case the young veteran-for-young veteran trade), several of the Tribe's current and future bullpen stars have been developed in-house. Rafael Perez for many years was one of the better left-handed relievers in baseball, and two years ago the Indians promoted both Tony Sipp and Vinnie Pestano to the majors. Sipp took a step back in 2012, but Pestano pretty much repeated his outstanding 2011 campaign this season.
Pestano was not a high draft pick, or even a middle-round draft pick. He was selected in the 20th round of the 2006 draft. Granted, Pestano was pitching for Cal State-Fullerton, of the nation's best baseball programs, so it's not like the Indians found him in some obscure junior college somewhere, but they saw potential, and the minor-league staff got the best out of that potential. When the Indians called him up to pitch in September of 2010, he was ready to pitch high-leverage innings; there was no initial struggle as has been the case with other players.
Pestano features a rather common fastball/slider combo, but offerings are plus pitches; batters whiff on both pitches about 15% of the time, and foul them off another 20% of the time. Pestano threw his 92-93 mph fastball 78% of the time, and his 80 mph slider 22% of the time. The fastball tends to have excellent movement away from right-handed batters and into left-handed batters, and the slider (or sharp curve) is used as a put-away pitch against left-handers.
Vinnie did have some trouble against left-handed hitters in 2012; they hit .241/.329/.423 against him, but his line against right-handed hitters was so good (.168/.227/.261) that those splits didn't really change how he was used. He was the eighth inning guy, and when the situation called for it, came in to the seventh inning to get the team out of a jam. He did have some stretches where he struggled with control, but those were intermittent.
Because Pestano hit the ground running, even after two fantastic seasons he's not going to get a huge salary bump; he'll be eligible for arbitration only after the 2013 season, and even then he wouldn't be getting a big increase unless he's used as closer; such is the current disparity between the 8th and 9th innings. But I think it's very likely that he inherits the closer role and the subsequent salary bump, for the Indians are going to have to pay Chris Perez $6.0-$6.5M next season if they keep him around, and I don't think that's going to happen. Even though incoming manager Terry Francona has said that everyone on the roster will be getting a clean slate, there's a good reason to trade Chris Perez even if you don't take into consideration his numerous off-field controversies this season.
|162 Game Avg.||2.50||68||18||2||66||47||18||18||6||25||80||268||158||6.4||0.8||3.5||11.0||3.17|