Pestano working on getting more extension in Columbus
Key piece to Indians bullpen looking to get back lost life on fastball
After a shaky start to the season the Indians and Vinnie Pestano are relying on a trip to Triple-A Columbus to bring him back to his former glory as a key member in the Bullpen Mafia.
Pestano entered the 2013 season with a lot of promise after two dominating years in the Indians bullpen. Unfortunately, a stint on the disabled list in May and a disappointing July made Pestano the choice to send to Triple-A once newly acquired left-handed pitcher Marc Rzepczynski joined the Indians bullpen.
Pestano had already been removed from his setup role and followed that up with an inconsistent month of July posting a 4.91 ERA in eight appearances. His innings had been limited and he needed work, so a switch to Columbus was both beneficial to the club because it made room for the team’s new lefty and also allowed Pestano the time and opportunities to work through his issues.
“You know, I wasn’t getting a lot of innings up in Cleveland, so coming down here I'm just trying to get comfortable, trying to get a little bit of momentum built, so that way when the time comes that I’m needed I’ll be ready to go and help out up there,” Pestano said.
Pestano is taking his move to Triple-A in stride, keeping his head up, and using the time wisely.
“Everyone has to work on stuff from time to time," he noted. "Obviously, I’d rather still be in Cleveland, but that decision is not up to me so the only thing I can control is my attitude.”
The biggest concern to the Indians is increasing Pestano’s extension. If extension is increased it allows more torque, ultimately generating more power.
Pestano made his first Columbus appearance July 31st against the Buffalo Bisons throwing a total of twelve fastballs and averaging a six foot ten inch extension. His next appearance came on August 2nd, and he threw seven fastballs and raised his extension to six foot eleven inches.
The hope is with an increase of extension Pestano will be able avoid bats like he did in 2011 and 2012. The Indians have good reason to believe this as between 2010-2012 pitchers with a greater than six foot six inch extension compared to pitchers with less than five foot six inch extension averaged 1.1 strikeouts more per nine innings.
“Velocity is one thing, but there’s a difference between throwing a 90 MPH fastball and throwing a 90 MPH fastball that to the hitter looks faster," Pestano said. "So some guys they say have late life and the ball jumps on you quick. Somewhere in the past few months I lost that late life. So even though the radar gun readings might be the same it doesn’t look the same, so we’re trying to get that late life back and coming out here is a good opportunity to do that."
Pestano hopes to return to Cleveland later this year.
“Right now I’m going out there like I said, just trying to get comfortable again, get on a little bit of a roll, get some innings down here then hopefully be in a position to help the big club out in a little bit,” Pestano said.
This year marks the first time Pestano has returned to Columbus since 2010.
“There’s a lot worse places to come back to than Columbus,” he said.
Pestano made his major league debut late in 2010 after splitting his season between Double-A Akron and Columbus. He would later make his first major league save while closer Chris Perez was on maternity leave.
A surprise to no one, Pestano made the club out of 2011’s spring training and finished the season fifth among American League relievers in strikeouts with 84.
Pestano followed up with another equally impressive season in 2012. He cemented himself as part of the bullpen recording more holds than any other Indian in a single season. Pestano came up with 36 holds, thrashing Rafael Betancourt’s previous record of 31 holds.
The Indians along with Pestano hope he will return to his former glory later this season, and he is very much aware of the position he is in.
“We’ve always got stuff to work on in this game," he said. "There’s an old saying, once you think you’re in you’re out, and once you think you’re out, you’re in. You know professional sports are always a game of what have you done for me lately and you can’t really rely on what you did in the past, the past doesn’t really have anything to do with the present. It may buy you some time, give you a little longer of a leash, but sooner or later if you let it your past will catch up to you.”
Many players would allow themselves to think negatively on their situation, but that is something Pestano refuses to do.
“I’m a baseball player, it’s something I’ve been doing my entire life, and I wouldn’t rather be doing anything else," he said. "Something you care a lot about, something that you love, you should be able to go out there and love no matter what and I still love playing baseball."
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