Optimistic Predictions for the Indians’ 2012 Opening Day Roster

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The Bullpen

Chris Perez: Perez is fully healthy for Opening Day and reminds everyone why he was once expected to join the pantheon of elite closers. Last year is a thing of the past and he goes back to striking out a batter an inning. He gives the Indians 70 frames with an ERA in the low 2.00′s en route to notching well over 40 saves. (full profile here)

Vinnie Pestano:  It’s 2011 all over again—but better. Not only does Pestano’s strikeout rate hold steady, but his walk rate improves and moves towards the lower rates he had in the upper minors. So utterly does he dominate that he wins the closer’s job and earns a reputation as one of the best firemen in the game. He is rewarded with an All-Star nod and a couple bottom-ballot Cy Young votes. (full profile here)

Tony Sipp: A repeat of 2011 is probably about as good as we can reasonably hope for from Sipp for 2012. His BABIP is bound to rise at least back to its usual .240-.250 level, but if he can regain some of his strikeout stuff and limit the long ball another ERA around 3.00 is a definite possibility. (full profile here)

Rafael Perez: Another 11.0 K/9 rate is out of the question, but there’s at least some chance Perez can get back to the days of striking out a batter an inning. He keeps his BB/9 rate under 3.0 and continues to be stingy with the long ball, giving the Indians 70 innings with an ERA in the low 2.00′s. (full profile here)

Joe Smith: Encore! Smith plays like it’s 2011 all over again. There’s no way his 2.2 percent HR/FB rate is sustainable, but he makes up for the couple extra dingers by reclaiming some of the strikeouts he lost last year (6.0 K/9, down from his 7.9 previous career mark) and gives the Indians 70 more innings with an ERA in the low 2.00′s. (full profile here)

Dan Wheeler: Bill James pretty much hits the nail on the head here (2.80 ERA, 1.04 WHIP). A 2.80 ERA would be Wheeler’s best since 2006. A few more innings or a little better home run prevention would be nice, but if he can do that he’ll be a fantastic addition to the Bullpen Mafia. (full profile here)

Jairo Asencio: You see his Triple-A numbers from last year (1.81 ERA, 26 saves)? Well, that’s not happening in the majors, but even after adjusting for the superior competition there’s still a relief ace somewhere within him. He strikes out more than a batter an inning while keeping the walks down to a manageable rate, and as a result his ERA settles in the low-to-mid-2.00′s. He gets some Rookie of the Year votes and earns a permanent position in the Bullpen Mafia. (full profile here)