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Pessimistic Predictions for the Indians’ 2012 Opening Day Roster

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The Bullpen

Chris Perez: Perez turns out to not be ready for the start of the season. His strikeout woes continue and he flounders in as he fights to keep his job. The Indians, unable to afford instability in the back of the bullpen, tap Vinnie Pestano for the ninth inning and relegate the scuffling Perez to set-up or middle relief duty. (full profile here)

Vinnie Pestano: Really, the Steamer projection (3.28 ERA, 1.32 WHIP) is about as skeptical as you can get without being unreasonable. Even if he suffers a dramatic Perez-like strikeout reduction he’d still be…well, roughly the same pitcher Perez was before last year. He might not be phenomenal, but it’s hard to see Pestano not pitching very well. (full profile here)

Tony Sipp: Sipp’s downward strikeout rate trend continues—but this time his walk rate goes the wrong way too. His hit rate shoots up to normal-pitcher levels, his ERA approaches 5.00, and he loses his spot in the bullpen midway through the season. (full profile here)

Rafael Perez: We’ve seen this movie before. Perez loses control of his walk rate without getting enough strikeouts. He gives up more than his share of baserunners and doesn’t strand enough of them once they reach base. In other words, it’s 2009 all over again. (full profile here)

Joe Smith: Steamer’s projections (4.00 ERA, 1.46 WHIP) might look pessimistic, but they don’t actually represent the worst plausible scenario. If Smith’s walk and HR/FB rates return to their usual above-average levels and his depressed strikeout rate holds steady—well, it won’t be pretty. An 150 percent increase of his 2011 ERA (i.e., too 5.00) wouldn’t be out of the question before he loses his job to someone from Triple-A. (full profile here)

Dan Wheeler: Wheeler loses his magic touch for inducing weak contact, and the effect is magnified as fly ball after fly ball falls uninhibited into the outfield grass. Despite his impressive (though regressed) walk and strikeout numbers he gives up too many home runs to be an effective reliever, and the Indians end up better off with Frank Herrmann. (full profile here)

Jairo Asencio: You see his MLB numbers from last year (6.97 ERA, 2.03 WHIP)? Well, positive regression should help him out there, but the underlying problems could remain. His BB/9 rate stays above 4.0 and he can’t get enough strikeouts to make up for it. His ERA floats around the 5.00 range and the Indians cut him lose before June. (full profile here)