Could Vinnie Pestano Claim The Indians Closers Role From Opening Day On?

I am already on record as saying that Chris Perez is a major risk this season, but his injury just makes things that much worse.  While Perez is gunning to be ready for Opening Day, it is far from a given.  The Indians have said that Vinnie Pestano will be the closer if Perez is to miss the start of the season, so let’s take a look at what he brings to the table.

First let’s look at his 2011 production, which was his first full year in the Majors:

1 Win
62.0 Innings
2.32 ERA
1.05 WHIP
84 Strikeouts (12.19 K/9)
24 Walks (3.48 BB/9)
.269 BABIP

It’s obvious that the strikeout rate is the most impressive number.  It’s interesting, because over his minor league career he posted a 9.62 K/9 and failed to be above 9.00 in 2008 & 2009.  Things clicked in 2010, however, across three levels:

  • Double-A (13.1 IP) – 18 K
  • Triple-A (46.1 IP) – 59 K
  • Majors (5.0 IP) – 8 K

It’s not that he is an overpowering reliever, as his fastball averaged 92.7 mph last season, but it is clear that he can get the job done.  That’s really all that matters, isn’t it?

He couples that strikeout stuff with solid control (3.12 BB/9 over his minor league career) and a history of finishing games.  He has been closing games at every level, starting in college and throughout his minor league career.  How many pitchers, even those dubbed as a closer of the future, can boast having 60 career saves in the minors?

Strikeout potential…  Control…  Experience in the role…  It’s a potentially lethal combination for the former 20th round draft choice.

 It wouldn’t surprise me if Perez lost his job at some point in 2012, but what happens if he misses the start of the season and Pestano thrives in the role over the first few weeks?  Will the Indians simply pull him, regardless?  Given the disappearance of Perez’ strikeout ability (5.88 K/9 in ’11) and constant control issues (4.19 BB/9 in the Majors and 5.96 BB/9 in the minors), I wouldn’t be so sure.

Pestano has the potential to grab hold of the closer’s job at the outset, or at least set the stage to reclaim it sooner rather than later once Perez falters.  That makes him a must target player in the late rounds of all fantasy drafts.  If you are someone that doesn’t like to pay for saves, this is like finding fantasy gold.

What are your thoughts of Pestano?  Do you think he will close for the Indians in 2012?  How good do you think he could be?

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Make sure to check out our 2012 projections:

3 comments

  1. Ross says:

    In a league that gives the same points for holds and saves, would this guys K potential make him worth a look over a lower end closer like farnsworth.

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      If holds are a category, it changes the whole landscape of how you look at RP. The only problem is that holds are not an easy category to predict, but that said if you think Pestano will have a better ERA/WHIP/K than Farnsworth, then Pestano is an easy call.

      As it is, would it be a surprise if Farnsworth lost his closing job early on?

  2. GAHHH says:

    I think they give every opportunity to Perez when he comes back. If he blows a few in a row, then Pestano gets the job.

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