Pestano to be optioned to Columbus for Rzepczynski
The Indians made a surprising move on Tuesday night optioning out right-handed pitcher Vinnie Pestano to Triple-A Columbus to make room on the 25-man roster for newly acquired left-handed reliever Marc Rzepczynski. The Indians earlier in the day designated right-hander Joe Martinez for assignment to create room on the 40-man roster for Rzepczynski. The move is not yet official but is expected to be announced on Wednesday afternoon.
Pestano, 28, is 1-2 with a 4.05 ERA in 34 appearances this season, and in 33.1 innings has allowed 32 hits, 6 homers, 19 walks, and has 34 strikeouts. He has seen a signifcant drop in the quality of his stuff this season as his velocity has consistency been down 2-3 MPH since he went on the disabled list in May with a right elbow injury. He quickly returned, but he has not been the same since, though had been pitching better of late from a results perspective.
Still, the quality of Pestano's stuff was not what it was the previous two years when he was one of the AL's top setup men and often overmatched hitters. This season his hit rate, home run rate and walks rate have all spiked considerably, but he has been unable to figure out what it is that ails him as he and the Indians have both said he is healthy. With the Indians in a pennant race and him having options remaining, it appears they are going to let him go to Columbus to get himself figured out, something which might work well considering it is a low pressure environment and he can pitch and work on things without worrying about negatively impacting a game for the Indians.
It is important to note that lefty Cliff Lee had the same thing happen to him in August of 2007, ironically the last year the Indians contended this late in the season for a playoff spot. He came back from that disappointment to win the AL Cy Young the next season. It is also important to note that if Pestano spends the next month in Columbus that his arbitration status could change from an "arbitration one" player to a "super 2" player, which is important as he could get less money in arbitration this offseason and the Indians could also gain an extra year of control since he would be eligible for free agency after the 2017 season and not the 2016 season.
One thing that bears watching is what kind of impact this move has on the team chemistry as Pestano was a popular player in the clubhouse. With the Indians going well, some would argue that messing with the chemistry of the team like this could do more harm than good.
Rzepczynski, 27, has only appeared in 11 games this year for the Cardinals and is 0-0 with a 7.84 ERA (10.1 IP, 16 H, 1 HR, 4 BB, 9 K), and has spent most of the season at Triple-A Memphis going 1-2 with a 3.07 ERA in 32 games (44.0 IP, 44 H, 1 HR, 18 BB, 31 K). He will join the Indians bullpen as the second lefty in a matchup role, one he has performed well in over his career as lefties own a career .224 average, .607 OPS, and 3.13 K/BB ratio against him.
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Hopefully Pestano is not another Jensen Lewis type. I wish they had sent him down 6 weeks ago. Would have been good for him to get steady work, and good for the Indians. Relief pitchers are always volatile. Like David Riske, he was always good every other year. Or R Perez, who went from dominant, to atrocious, to serviceable, to out of baseball.