Jack Moore covered this for the main site, but I wanted to touch on it from a fantasy perspective. Chris Perez blew a three-run lead in the ninth inning last night, to no surprise of anyone who has read RotoGraphs all winter. Dan Wade looked at Perez and Pestano and I elaborated on why I felt that Pestano should be drafted before spring training began.
It is important to note that while the mile per hour readings on Cleveland’s gun yesterday said both Perez and Pestano were down, the gun also read that each pitcher was down roughly the same amount. So even though Perez may still be injured, the injury did not force him to a lower velocity.
Even with that disclaimer, Perez did post the lowest average mile per hour marks on his fastball and slider last year, so being consistent with his marks last year is not exactly a good thing. Perez’s decrease in velocity has led to two consecutive years of a decreasing strikeout-to-walk ratio, which sat at a lowly 1.50 mark last year.
Perez is simply not a very good pitcher, and this will be come more evident as the year continues. Maybe he pitches just well enough to hold onto his closer spot, as he should have a bit of leeway after two 20 save seasons, but Vinnie Pestano is likely right on his heels.
Speaking of Pestano, he looked very impressive in his outing yesterday. Coming after Perez blew the lead, Pestano threw 1.1 innings of scoreless ball with a strikeout, hit allowed, and hit batsman. He hit Kelly Johnson with a slider that generated a tremendous amount of break that hit Johnson in the lower part of his leg. Despite hitting a batter, Pestano’s slider looked great throughout the outing.
He does have issues with getting left-handers out, as his three-quarters arm slot has forced him to relatively large righty-lefty splits (1.34 FIP vs. RHP, 5.01 FIP vs. LHP), but that number could even out over a bigger sample. It is not, however, a given that it does. This is certainly something worth monitoring over the season, and it could prevent Pestano from taking over Perez’s role.
Despite Pestano’s poor splits, he is a must own for anyone who took the risk of drafting or picking up Perez. It’s to the point where you should either trade Perez if you have him or trade for Pestano if he is owned. Owning both will at least help improve strikeout and WHIP rates in standard leagues, as Pestano is one of the better middle relievers in the game. Keep watch of how Perez performs over his next few outings, because a DL stint or removal from the closer spot could be in store if he blows any more three run leads.