Sep 16, 2013; Kansas City, MO, USA; Cleveland Indians relief pitcher Vinnie Pestano (52) delivers a pitch in the eighth inning against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium. Kansas City won the game 7-1. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

Vinnie Pestano: 2014 Cleveland Indians Player Profile

Vinnie Pestano & Indians Hope That 2013 Is An Outlier

The Cleveland Indians had not been to arbitration since 1991 (Greg Swindell & Jerry Browne), but in February of 2014 they appeared across the table to argue against reliever Vinnie Pestano.

There was a wide gap between the Tribe’s offer of $975,000 and Pestano’s request of $1.45M. Ultimately, the arbiter ruled in favor of the Indians and left a bad taste in the mouth of Pestano. He had to say of the proceedings:

“I definitely think it’ll affect how I see things going forward,” said Pestano. “I don’t really know if I can be as honest and up-front anymore. I’ve got three more years of arbitration left. I don’t know what they’ll pick to use against me next year or two years from now.”

vinnie pestano

Feb 24, 2014; Goodyear, AZ, USA; Cleveland Indians pitcher Vinnie Pestano takes part in the annual photo day at Goodyear Ballpark. Mandatory Credit: Lance Iversen-USA TODAY Sports

The arbitration hearing brought to an end a period of negative outcomes for Pestano that dates back to the World Baseball Classic (WBC). If you recall, Pestano injured his elbow, leading to a disappointing 2013 campaign where he posed a 4.08 ERA and strike out rate of 9.4 K/9 and an elevated walk rate of 5.3 BB/9 in only 35.1 innings of work. His poor work out of the bullpen led to a mid-season demotion to the Tribe’s Triple-A affiliate, Columbus Clippers.

Heading into spring training, both the Indians and Pestano are looking for a return to his 2011-2012 form where there weren’t many better setup men in the game. In the two seasons prior to last, he posted a 2.45 ERA over 137 games spanning 132 innings of work. Pestano’s strikeout rate was an impressive 10.9 K/9 while his walk rate was only 3.3 BB/9.  He served as the teams primary setup man for closer Chris Perez and set a club record with 36 holds in 2012.

This spring, Pestano looks to regain the velocity and movement that his elbow injury stripped from him in 2013. As of now, he is going to have to battle to make the opening day roster and if he does, he’ll have to claw his way into the later innings. Currently, the Indians have John Axford as their closer and Bryan Shaw and Cody Allen as the primary high-leverage setup men.

However, a return to form from Vinnie Pestano would go a long way to giving the Indians one of the more formidable bullpens in the middle innings, where Terry Francona says most games are won or lost.

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