Puzzle Pieces Once Again Fitting Together For Indians Vinnie Pestano
From 2011 to 2012 Vinnie Pestano was one of the most dominant setup men in the major leagues appearing in 137 games and posting a 2.45 ERA (36 ER/132 IP) while striking out 160 batters.
The 2013 season was not so kind as he saw his performance decline to the point where he lost his hold as the eighth inning and eventually was demoted to the Indians Triple-A affiliate Columbus Clippers.
He pitched well enough in Columbus to earn a return to the Indians in September but appeared in only 13 games. He made the team out of spring training but had a rough last few outings and the struggles poured over into the regular season. After allowing two earned runs on three his in just an inning against the Minnesota Twins Pestano did not mince words about his outing saying that he was “pitching for my life right now.”
He was still searching for the mechanical fix that might unleash a few ticks more on the radar gun. According to Fangraphs.com his fastball averaged 89 mph continuing a declining trend in each of his four big league season. (92.7 mph . 91.8 , 91.2 , and 89 )
After the game against the Twins he did was not concerned about his velocity:
“If I go out there and I put up a scoreless inning and I’m throwing whatever I’m throwing,” Pestano said, “and I go out there and I give up two runs and I’m throwing two miles per hour harder, then it didn’t really do me any good. It’s not really something I look at or worry about. I just worry about how effective I am.” – cleveland.com
He made his final appearance for the Tribe on April 8th and allowed three runs (one earned) on three hits in just two-thirds of an inning and after the game was sent to Columbus (more here). Indians pitching coach Mickey Callaway wanted him to go to the minors and not worry about radar guns just go down and get his confidence back.
“I just think he needs to get his confidence back,” Callaway said. “It seems like when he’s out there right now, he just doesn’t have that confidence that he once had. Whether you have good velo or bad velo, or good pitches or bad pitches, if you don’t have any confidence, it’s going to be tough to succeed.
“He’ll go down there, get his innings in, get his work in and try to build that confidence back up, so whenever he comes back, whatever his velocity is, whatever pitches he has, however they’re working, he can have confidence to go out there and get outs.” – MLB.com
With the Clippers he has appeared in 21 games and has posted an ERA of 2.14 (5 ER/21 IP) and has registered 28 strikeouts. Remarkably three of the five earned runs charged to him came in a April 29th contest against the Norfolk Tides where he recorded just one out.
He was interviewed prior to the Clippers contest against the Charolotte Knights on June 9th and discussed his own frustrations with his inability to succeed after a hard winter of working to rediscover his 2014 mechanics.
He has been working with Clippers pitching coach Tony Arnold on fixing all the mistakes he was making. Pestano says it’s been like putting a puzzle together. Each day the puzzles apart and you have to put it back together.
So far the puzzle pieces are fitting together rather nicely. The question becomes if he has put things back in order how long will it be before Pestano returns to the Tribe’s bullpen?
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