Found July 09, 2013 on Fox Sports Ohio:
The Bullpen Mafia is no more. The once-strong bullpen for the Cleveland Indians has gone from one of the most reliable units in baseball to one of the worst. At the forefront of the bullpen issues is right-hander Vinnie Pestano. Others have had their struggles with performance or injuries, but the key member to the unit has always been Pestano. However, this season he has lost himself and has spent the last two months trying to regain his form and confidence. Pestano, 28, is now 1-2 with a 4.71 ERA in 29 appearances. He has had tougher seasons in the minors due to injuries, but has never struggled with performance as much as this season. It has been a combination of mechanics, poor performance, a drop in quality, and injury. For comparisons sake, check out his numbers over the last three years:YearERAWHIPH9HR9BB9K9K:BB20112.321.056.00.73.512.23.5020122.571.106.80.93.19.83.1720134.711.579.11.95.09.41.88 The numbers speak for themselves. Everything from a performance perspective has spiked in the wrong direction. His ERA is over two runs higher than normal. He is allowing almost a half a runner more per inning. He is giving up twice as many home runs. The walks are up an astounding 62 from last year and his strikeout to walk ratio has been cut in half. So what is the reason behind Pestanos sudden struggles this season? The number one cause may be that Pestano is not 100 healthy. He went on the disabled list in early May because of a sore right elbow, and he has not looked the same. Since his return from the disabled list on May 17th he has appeared in 21 games and compiled a 5.66 ERA, allowed five homers and 12 walks in 20.2 innings, and opposing hitters are hitting .289 off of him. He had Tommy John surgery in 2006, then struggled with elbow problems throughout the 2009 season. He has managed to avoid his elbow issues the past three seasons, but they have cropped back up, possibly triggered by the early preparation for the World Baseball Classic this past spring. Pestano got knocked around by the Red Sox over Memorial Day weekend, surrendering a late lead. He and the Indians both said it was mechanical, and since then his fastball velocity has been a little better - often sitting at 90-92 MPH. But there is no doubt that the injury has affected his fastball. Here are his low, high and average fastball velocities over the past three seasons (per Fangraphs):YearMinMaxAverage201189.695.592.6201287.094.691.7201386.893.891.1 Pestanos fastball has been in steady decline the past two seasons, as his low-end fastball has dropped from 90 MPH to 87 MPH, his high-end fastball has dropped from 96 MPH to 94 MPH this season, and his average fastball velocity is down from 93 MPH to 91 MPH. That is a 2-3 MPH drop in velocity, which is significant - the lack of velocity and late life with his fastball has made him much more hittable, resulting in a jump in line drives. Interestingly, the warning signs may have been there last season as Pestano saw a velocity drop from 90-96 MPH in 2011 to 87-95 MPH last season. While the problem may be physical or mechanical, it could also be mental as well. For whatever reason, Pestano has thrown his slider a lot more this season - 31.0 of the time, up from 22.9 in 2012 and 19.9 in 2011. That is a significant change in pitch usage, which means he may have lost some confidence in his fastball. Whether the problem, the Indians can ill afford to pitch Pestano in high leverage situations right now. He needs time to regain his form and his confidence, which is why manager Terry Francona announced on Monday that Joe Smith would move into the primary setup role in the eighth inning. But if the Indians are to contend this season they need their bullpen to iron things out and be much more consistent. Getting Pestano healthy would be a great start.
THE BACKYARD
BEST OF MAXIM
RELATED ARTICLES

The 10 hottest hitters in the Indians farm system

Tony takes a look at 10 of the hottest hitters in the organization from Double-A Akron to rookie level Arizona – some names you know well and some you don’t. The players are not ranked, but are listed by level and include the likes of Tyler Holt, Jose Ramirez, Joey Wendle, Jeremy Lucas, Dorssys Paulino, Anthony Santander, Logan Vick, Nellie Rodriguez, Clint Frazier and Joel...

Guilmet riding command into big leagues

In the midst of a stellar season at Triple-A Columbus, relief pitcher Preston Guilmet has finally been given the opportunity that he has sought since being selected in the ninth round of the 2009 MLB First-Year Player Draft  - a shot in the majors. After right-hander Carlos Carrasco was optioned back to the Clippers following his disastrous outing against the Detroit Tigers on...

MLB News: Danny Salazar to make MLB debut on Thursday

Danny Salazar, one of the best pitching prospects in the Cleveland Indians system, will make his major league debut on Thursday against the Toronto Blue Jays. The Tribe announced the somewhat-expected decision on Tuesday afternoon, with a final rotation spot left open with the most recent demotion of Carlos Carrasco. It will be a tough first test for the 23-year-old Salazar, as he’ll...

The Diff: All-Star update on Cleveland Indians prospects

The Diff is your weekly Wednesday WFNY look into the amazing world of sports statistics. For a complete log of articles, click this link. Last week’s topic was reader-recommended, as I looked into some key differences with the 2013 Indians. Now, it’s back to prospect talk. As much as I love talking about the Indians and their increasingly annoying major league team, my original...

Cleveland Indians: A Diehard Fan’s Tale

When someone asks me where I am from, I will proudly proclaim that I am from Cleveland, Ohio. Home of the Browns, Indians, Cavaliers, Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame, Pro Football Hall Of Fame just around the corner in Canton, Playhouse Square, Public Square.. you name it! The response to my answer is always “Oh, I’m sorry”, or “Gee, that must stink!”. To the outsider, it does...

House brilliant in 4-0 shutout of Indians

COLUMBUS- The last time Clippers' left-hander T.J. House saw his name in the win column was May 13. Going up against the International League West-leading Indianapolis Indians Tuesday, it looked like that statistic wouldn’t change. Wrong. In undoubtedly his finest performance at the Triple-A level, House cruised through six scoreless innings to steer the Clippers toward a 4...

Tribe goes for series win with Masterson on mound

Even when he's struggling, Cleveland's Justin Masterson can usually be relied on to pitch deep into games.In his last start, the right-hander failed to provide even that.Masterson tries to bounce back from one of this worst starts of the season by continuing his dominance over the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday night in Cleveland.After tossing a six-hitter in a 4-0 win over...
THAT'S UNFORTUNATE

Swisher tagged out after foul ball turns fair

credit frrole.com We’ve seen it time and time again when a little dribbler rolls up third base line and both the third baseman and catcher watching roll until it reaches foul territory.  Not this time.  Detroit Tigers catcher, Brayan Pena made a heads up play with the score tied at two in the eighth inning; while Cleveland Indians first baseman, Nick Swisher taught a lot of...

Nine Innings: Including reasons for Lonnie not to bunt

1) A few days before the Tigers series started, my good friend Dave from Westlake (hes the guy who used to correctly predict the Browns drafts) texted to ask how many games the Indians would win in the four-game series. One or two was the pithy response. This guess was based on the Tigers starting pitchers, the Indians starting pitchers and the Tigers lineup, which is very reminiscent...

Swisher gets bro-asted twice in one game

Bro, could you have had a worse night? At least Cleveland Indians first baseman Nick Swisher doesn't think so. First, with the game tied 2-2 in the bottom of the eighth inning against the Detroit Tigers Monday night, Swisher hit a slow roller that initially went into foul territory. He got careless when it looked like the ball was rolling out, and Tigers catcher Brayan Pena...

Tigers 4 Indians 2: Golden opportunity slips through Tribe’s fingers

If the Indians don’t end up winning the AL Central title, all they will have to do is point to their performance against the rival Detroit Tigers as the key reason why. They had every chance to take last night’s 4-2, 10 inning, rain-soaked loss, but just could never capitalize on their bevy of chances. The Tigers and Indians have now played twelve times this season – Detroit...

Nick Swisher Tagged Out Standing Next to Home Plate After Brayan Pena Coaxes Ball Fair Halfway Down Line (Video)

Surely Nick Swisher played Little League. Where was he on the day when they teach the kids to always run, even if the ball looks foul? Swisher could only shake his head Monday night when he failed to run after Tigers catcher Brayan Pena made a heads-up play at the dish. Swisher tapped a ball into the dirt along the third base line that was clearly foul — until it wasn’t. Pena...

Jimenez, 3 Indians relievers blank Blue Jays 3-0

CLEVELAND (AP) -- Ubaldo Jimenez and three relievers combined on a shutout and the Cleveland Indians defeated the Toronto Blue Jays 3-0 on Tuesday night. Jimenez (7-4) dodged constant trouble in six innings, allowing five hits with two walks and four strikeouts. Cody Allen, Joe Smith and Chris Perez blanked Toronto over the final three innings. Perez allowed two hits in the...

Ubaldo Jimenez Went Middle Finger On Someone & Porn Star Joslyn James Says ‘Roll Tide’

How bored were baseball fans at last night’s games? We found one lady playing on an iPad, one lady knitting a cap, o…

Indians rumors: Cleveland looking for 'top starter'

Sitting just 3 1/2 games back of the Detroit Tigers, the Cleveland Indians still have a good shot at the AL Central title. A good starting pitcher might just give them the edge they need to keep up with Detroit and that's exactly what they're looking for, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. However, Heyman says the Indians don't just want any arm in the rotation; if...
MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.