Right-handed reliever Vinnie Pestano entered last night’s game in the ninth inning with an 8-3 lead against the San Diego Padres. What seemed to be a routine garbage-inning type appearance provoked his departure from the Cleveland Indians less than 12 hours later.
Closer John Axford needed to come in to record the last out after Pestano allowed three hits, three runs (one earned) and a solo home run to the first batter of the inning, pinch hitter Xavier Nady. Last night proved to be a major step back in the resurrection of the 29-year-old’s career.
Pestano’s 2013 demotion to the triple-A Columbus was rationalized by a number of factors in his favor. Some said he was overworked from pitching in the World Baseball Classic, and others credited his elbow soreness towards his regression from a stellar 2012 season. One season later, without any excuses to conjure up, it seems that Pestano has hit a significant snag in his career. Like many flash-in-the-pan bullpen arms, perhaps Pestano’s time in the bigs is coming to a close.
The California State Fullerton alum had an impressive 2012 campaign as the eighth-inning setup man wedged in between Joe Smith and Chris Perez. His ERA of 2.57 that season may have been misleading with a much higher 3.42 FIP. Pestano’s 2012 batting average on balls in play was .263, the lowest in his major league career, suggesting that luck may have slightly aided his production.
To the Indians’ credit, they made necessary preparations towards the future with the distinct possibility that Pestano may not regain his former success. We may very well see Pestano get another chance with the big league club when an injury creates opportunity. The silver lining in this situation is that the front office has placed the team in a position where they don’t need Pestano going forward. However, it would surely be a bonus to have his services down the stretch.