Remember Rick White? David Riske? Kaz Tadano?
Those names don’t exactly trigger fun or exciting memories.
You know what they do? They make you miss Chris Perez.
In 2004 those were the cast of characters that tried to close games while Bob Wickman recovered most of the season from Tommy John surgery.
This is a domino effect of having an injured closer in your bullpen. It seems silly but when there’s no “defined” closer, the rest of the pitchers are unsure of their roles and are asked to pitch in bigger spots than they’re used to. It’s easy to say “all outs are the same, three of 27.” It’s also easy to say you can just throw Vinnie Pestano into the closers role, no problem.
But you forget having to move Joe Smith to cover Pestano’s eighth inning and someone to cover Smith’s seventh.
To those of you who wanted Perez traded, here’s what might have taken place. It could have caused an earlier meltdown of the bullpen.
While the cast of characters the Indians have now seem to be a little more talented, they now are unsure of their roles and certainly aren’t performing in the ones they are being thrown into.
There’s no explanation of why an arm as talented and live as Nick Hagadone’s continues to throw batting practice fastballs when he does manage to throw a strike.
So can anyone from the minors help the Indians ailing bullpen? There’s been a lot of names thrown around.
#1 RHP Preston Guilmet – currently has 14 saves at AAA Columbus. He continues to get the job done at the back of the bullpen at every level he’s been at. The problem right now is that he’s not on the 40 man roster and the Indians have been letting him progress through each level a year at a time. If the Indians need a reliable reliever from AAA, Guilmet has been that at every level so far.
#2 RHP Matt Langwell – Langwell might throw a little harder than Guilmet but doesn’t quite possess the stuff that Guilmet has, at least in terms of an out pitch. Still, he’s been effective as well. He also isn’t on the 40 but seems to be line to get a shot at some point.
#3 Jerry Gil – Many people have mentioned Gil as a potential call up. He impressed the Tribe staff in spring training but has walked 23 and struck out 23 in 32.1 innings of work.
#4 RHP Fernando Nieve – He’s pitcher very well this year. But, if it gets to this point, yikes.
#5 LHP Giovanni Soto – Soto for the time being, is a reliever. I mentioned early in spring that he could make his debut this year out the bullpen in a Rafael Perez type role. He was hurt earlier in the year and hasn’t pitched in over a week now. He’s not an option right now.
#6 RHP Danny Salazar – Some have mentioned Salazar as well as an option out of the bullpen. Have to think with stuff like his, the Indians will let him ride for now as a starter because he has a chance to help there next year. I haven’t heard anything yet about the possibility and I do like the model idea of easing someone like Salazar (small frame, big arm, no ML experience) into the bigs out of the pen, but right now he’s not an option with just two AAA starts under his belt.
#7 RHP CC Lee – Lee made his first appearance in Lake County on Wednesday with three strikeouts in one perfect inning. It was his first appearance after having Tommy John last April. He has a while before he can work back up but he is already on the 40 man roster. They’ll probably be careful with his arm right now so don’t’ expect him to ride in on a white horse.
RHP Shawn Armstrong would’ve been an option, however he is in Arizona rehabbing an right arm injury that is expected to keep him out most of, if not all of this season.
LHP TJ House is a starter and I’ve heard the Indians have no plans to use him in the bullpen.
Some have mentioned RHP Trey Haley, who is on the 40 man roster as well. Haley has still had issues throwing strikes and while he has tantalizing stuff, he’s just not ready.
RHP Matt Capps is on the disabled list. The Indians went from having a multitude of bullpen options in spring training to being very thin right now.
This is what happens when a closer gets hurt. People love to rip Chris Perez or want him traded. The domino effect of either is this, and it’s amplified by a banged up Pestano. Be careful what you wish for Tribe fans.