Remember  Rick White? David Riske? Kaz Tadano?

Jose Jimenez?

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.


You can read more of Justin’s analysis of the Indians minor league system on his twitter @JL_Baseball or at


  • Seattle Stu says:

    It has to be asked, how much does CP pay the IPL staff?

  • Sean Porter says:

    With most of the attention given to Trevor Bauer as the Indians “next big thing” I feel that Danny Salazar is virtually under the radar.

    Can you tell us more about the kid Justin?

  • Justin Lada says:

    Another Chris Perez fan. Love you guys.
    Sean: Yeah, Bauer has certainly stole some attention from Salazar, who would be the Indians top pitching prospect if not for Bauer.
    Salazar has a great fastball. Consistently in the mid to upper 90s, sitting 94-96 at times. The big key for him is continuing to refine his changeup and slider. Both have a chance to be quality offerings. If both are effective pitches for him, he can be a solid starter, maybe as high as a number two. If his slider develops more than the changeup, he has a really good shot to be a nice back-end reliever in the 8th maybe 9th someday.
    Another big question mark with Salazar is that he’s 6’0 190. He doesn’t have a big frame, so there are concerns about how his body would hold up if he were to be a big league starter throwing 175+ innings. He’s also already had Tommy John surgery, three years ago.
    But, he’s been on the 40 man roster for over two years, so that tells you the Indians think very highly of Salazar’s arm.

    • Sean Porter says:

      Do you follow the MLB Draft Justin? If so, anyone you are hoping falls to the Tribe at #5?

  • Steve Alex says:

    I’m not a fan of jerking guys back and forth between the rotation and bullpen and want to see what Salazar can do as a starter. We don’t need anyone else right now who walks a batter per inning. I had such high hopes for Hagadone when we traded for him, but he just can’t turn his talent into results. Guilmet sounds intriguing. I like CC Lee for next year; he has a good arm and deceptive delivery. With Joe Smith pending free agency and Chris Perez approaching $10 MM in salary as a 4th-year arbitration eligible and possibly on the way out, we’re going to need new blood in the pen.

  • Levi McGuire says:

    We’re looking at the glass as if it’s half empty when we should be looking at this is an opportunity. Closers have always had a short shelf life outside of Hoffman, Mesa, Rivera etc. and we can look to examples such as Brad Lidge, Eric Gagne, George Sherrill and most recently, Brian Wilson. It stands to be asked, why not dangle out an asset such as Perez for future arms and obtain the max value while we can? At this point, we owe it to ourselves to explore a move like this.

  • Drew says:

    Pestano looked quite good last night after the lead-off homerun to Paul. The ground ball to Kipnis and the broken-bat pop to Reynolds showed that his stuff is tough to hit. I was watching his velocity and it was sitting in the low 90s, so he is nearly back to what he was before the DL stint.

    • Sean Porter says:

      I can guarantee that the words: “Perez looked quite good last night after the lead-off homerun” have NEVER been written by a Tribe fan.

      It’ll be interesting to see how long it takes this fanbase to turn on Pestano.

  • Mike says:

    Is CC Lee a combination of CC Sabathia and Cliff Lee?

  • The Doctor says:

    jimenez and rick white – that was quite the duo. my god, neither one of them should have even been in the majors.

    quick bone to pick – tom “filthy mcnasty” mastny wasn’t on the team in 2004. he didn’t make his majors debut until 2006.

    i’d confidently say that everyone presently in our bullpen is better than any of the rick white/jose jimenez/david riske/kaz tadano failure pile. heck, with the exception of hagadone i’d be willing to say they’re all better than wickman, as well.

  • Justin Lada says:

    Sean: Kohl Stewart is an intriguing arm. Neither Gray or Appel will fall to #5. If they don’t take a shot on Stewart, Austin Meadows, Colin Moran are names to look at. There’s a lot of risky arms in this draft.