Pragmatic Predictions for the Indians’ 2012 Opening Day Roster

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The Bullpen

Chris Perez: He returns his strikeout rate to a respectable level, which helps to negate the inevitable luck-based regression and keeps his ERA from jumping too much higher than the mid-3.00′s. If last year is any indication Pestano would be a better choice to be the Tribe’s relief ace, but Perez’ experience will keep his job safe, at least for this year. (full profile here)

Vinnie Pestano: Hard as it is to admit, a little bit of regression is probably in order, but something in the range of RotoChamp’s projection (2.70 ERA, 1.07 WHIP) is probably a good bet. And while there will be times in 2012 when we’ll wish he was the closer, he won’t wrest the job from Perez—at least, not yet. (full profile here)

Tony Sipp: Sipp takes a step back from 2011—even if his strikeout rate rebounds, his walk rate would probably rise with it—but he’s still an effective, if ordinary pitcher. I’d probably take the under on his mean projected 3.87 ERA, but 60 innings at something around that level of performance sounds like a good bet. (full profile here)

Rafael Perez: I’m not sure what all the projection systems’ skepticism is about. Expecting someone with a track record as inconsistent as Perez’ to repeat last year’s performance is probably unwise, but there’s no reason to assume he’s in for a full run’s worth of regression. I’ll take the Bill James projection (3.77 ERA, 1.37 WHIP), but without so many strikeouts. (full profile here)

Joe Smith: Smith’s strikeout, walk, HR/FB, and hit rates all rise at least a little bit. The added strikeouts and walks basically cancel each other out, but the extra balls falling in for hits and leaving the yard take their toll. RotoChamp (3.45 ERA, 1.17 WHIP) and Marcel’s (3.43 ERA, 1.22 WHIP) projections look like good bets, though Bill James’ projection (3.00 ERA, 1.24 WHIP) isn’t out of the question. (full profile here)

Dan Wheeler: I like the mean projection here (3.64 ERA, 1.17 WHIP). Despite his homer-prone nature and the hit his BABIP will take from the Indians’ defense he still misses enough bats and throws enough strikes to be an effective pitcher. Fifty innings with a mid-3.00′s ERA would be a great showing for a minor-league signee. (full profile here)

Jairo Asencio: Asencio really is a giant question mark; he has the least MLB experience of anyone on the 25-man roster, and he was a completely different pitcher when he dominated Triple-A than he was when he was struggling to get big-league batters out. The mean projection here (3.88 ERA, 1.37 WHIP) looks like a good bet, but there’s a pretty big margin of error there. (full profile here)