Indian’s closer Chris Perez has been sidelined early in spring training by a strained oblique, though it is being reported that he expects to be good to go by opening day. Whether or not Perez is indeed ready to go, Indians manager Manny Acta has already named his replacement. Should Perez remain injured or should he once again post a sub-par 1.5 K/BB ratio, but not receive the aide of a .234 BABIP in 2012, it’s the name Vinnie Pestano that fantasy owners will flock to the free agent wire to find.
Pestano is a 27-year-old right hander with a mid-90’s fastball that he throws three different ways: a four-seamer, two-seamer and cutter. His offspeed offering is a slider, which generated whiffs at an 18.6 percent clip last season. While that is a good whiff rate for any pitch, it’s not quite Craig Kimbrel territory – his slider generated a whiff about 24 percent of the time last season. However, because Pestano did such a good job varying the movement of his fastball, when he threw the four-seamer last season he got a swing-and-miss about 21 percent of the time, which is an excellent whiff rate for any pitch. Largely because of his swing-and-miss heater, Pestano struck out 33.6 percent of the batters he faced in 2011, which ranked him eleventh in that category last season among relievers with at least 40 innings of work (just slightly behind Jonathan Papelbon).
Pestano has a solid minor league track record as well, having posted a 9.6 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9 with a 2.55 ERA in 173 innings across all levels. Like Chris Perez, Pestano is more of a fly-ball pitcher, but he doesn’t allow as many home runs as Perez does.
If Pestano becomes the closer at some point during the 2012 season, he’s a solid bet to be an asset to fantasy owners in all categories (other than wins, of course).