As Susan recently pointed out, last April each of the IPL writers was asked to come up with some predictions for the 2012 season. In response to the question “Who or what will be the biggest surprise,” I wrote: “I wouldn’t exactly call it a surprise, but I don’t think that Vinnie Pestano will pitch as well in 2012 as he did last year. People tend to regress to the mean, and I think it’ll be hard for him to replicate his 2011 performance standards.”
Mind you, I didn’t think that Pestano’s excellent 2011 season was a mirage; I just expected that he wouldn’t be able to pitch quite so well in 2012. Well, I really couldn’t have been more wrong. Pestano’s 2012 season was statistically almost identical to his 2011 season.
In 2011, Pestano’s ERA was 2.32, second-best on the staff. In 2012 his ERA was very slightly higher, 2.57 (and best on the staff). Pestano gave up two earned runs over two-thirds of an inning in the last game of the season, a game which the Indians lost to the White Sox, 9-0. Going into that game, his ERA was 2.34.
In 2011 Pestano appeared in 67 games and pitched 62 innings. In 2012 he pitched 70 innings in 70 games. He gave up five home runs in 2011; in 2012 he gave up seven. In fact, the two runs he gave up in Game 162 were on solo homers. If Vinnie sits out Game 162 with a bum knee or a stomach virus, his ERA and homer totals are virtually identical from one year to the next.
Pestano issued 24 walks in 2011, three of which were intentional. In 2012, he also issued 24 walks, one of which was intentional.
Pestano’s WHIP in 2011 was 1.048; in 2012, it was 1.100, which is slightly less than 5% higher than the 2011 total. In effect, in 2012 he allowed one more baserunner per 20 innings than he did in 2011.
The only metric in which Pestano’s performance seemed to drop off last year was strikeouts. He whiffed 84 batters in 2011 for an SO/9 of 12.2; in 2012, he struck out 76 batters for an SO/9 of 9.8. I hardly think that is cause for alarm, though; that’s still a pretty good ratio.
Indians closer Chris Perez, who had his share of issues with the way the club was run this past season, is presumably a much happier camper now that manager Manny Acta is gone. Still, the Indians need a lot of help in a lot of areas, and the front office may decide that Perez’s trade value will never be higher. If they do trade Perez, I’m confident that Pestano could move into the role of closer with ease, the way Mariano Rivera took over for John Wetteland for the Yankees after the 1996 season.