I have been continuously excited about the Tribe bullpen for two years. I was sitting on the bleachers at the practice field in Goodyear raving to my friend about Vinnie Pestano’s potential before he ever made a pitch for the Tribe. So my bias is definitely positive when it comes to the pen for Cleveland. I was also happy the front office brought in and traded for several solid potential additions.
I will be watching them all carefully this week because I am slightly concerned for 2013. We all know that the Indians starting pitching is the greatest question mark. But what if the Indians most consistent area for two years starts to crack? I don’t think you need much imagination to figure out the likely result.
Big league bullpens are notoriously inconsistent from year to year. Sometimes even when the pitchers are not changed the results can change. They are built from the back forward. So this year we have seen the closer go down for the second spring in a row and our lights out setup man be “lit up” in the WBC. Now I still am optimistic that the back end will come through in the end but I see some concerning cracks.
Chris Perez was pretty solid all season in 2012, but had some command issues along with some mental focus issues. The mental focus issues were reflected both on the mound and in his off field commentary about fans and management. I have been assured by a close source that his main focus is all about winning. If so, he should be fine. But spring injuries are not always easy to overcome so some questions remain.
Pestano, everyone’s favorite bullpen pitcher for the Tribe, had some quite bothersome command issues to finish last season and the WBC failure looked similar. As I said at the start, I too love Pestano. Spring Training performances generally should be overlooked. But the USA baseball meltdown is more of a psychological concern than a normal Spring Training outing. The key here is that Pestano must let this failure go like any bad regular season performance. It will not be as easy to do as some think. And Vinnie really cares. That is one of his strengths. So I will be watching Vinnie closely and all the candidates for the Tribe bullpen. They need to remain a strength for the Indians to compete in 2013.
I will continue my observations and commentary tomorrow after watching the game tonight.