Did The Indians Give Up On Vinnie Pestano Too Soon?


Success With Angels Brings Back Memories Of Vintage Pestano

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Vinnie Pestano was not happy with the Cleveland Indians after their arbitration hearing which he lost.

He wasn’t happy with some of his quotes he had made being brought up by the Indians in the process but it’s hard to blame the Tribe’s representatives who hadn’t been in an arbitration case for 20 years.

After a rough beginning with the Indians he righted himself with the Indians Triple-A affiliate Columbus Clippers and was an effective reliever when he returned.

Even after being optioned back to Columbus for a second time he continued to be effective before being dealt to the Los Angeles Angels where he finished the year looking like the dominant Pestano that used to lock down the eighth inning.

More than likely the Indians front office had made the decision to non-tender Pestano at seasons end and rather lose him for nothing they elected to get a minor league pitching prospect in exchange but the question is did the Indians give up on Pestano too soon?

Despite a rough finish in the Cactus League Vinnie Pestano made the Cleveland Indians out of spring training. The struggles poured over into the regular season and 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 [2011]. 91.8 [2012], 91.2 [2013], and 89 [2013])

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 was sent to Columbus after his appearance 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 25 games and has posted an ERA of 1.78 (5 ER/25.1 IP) and has registered 32 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 recalled to the Indians on June 10th and appeared in 10 games posting a 1.42 ERA (1ER/6.1IP) before being sent back to the Clippers. He mad seven appearances in Columbus (1.80 ERA) before the Tribe dealt him to the Los Angeles Angels for starting pitching prospect Michael Clevinger.

He finished the year with the Angels appearing in 12 games and posting an ERA of 0.93 (1 ER/9.2IP) striking out 13 and walking just four. He impressed the Angles with his September work that he was included on their post-season roster.

His future is no longer with the Indians but it will be interesting to see if he has been able to find the bite on that once dominant wipe out slider.