The Indians will be depending on youth in the pen in 2010. That is because 32-year old righty Kerry Wood will miss the next 6-8 weeks due to a strained back. Wood pitched in 58 games (0 starts) for the Indians last season and he was 3-3 with 20 saves, a 4.25 ERA and a 1.38 WHIP. Wood has done a decent job since converting to the bullpen from the starting rotation. In his last two years, Wood has pitched in 123 games (0 starts) in which he is 8-7 with 54 saves, a 3.87 ERA and a 1.27 WHIP. Wood has whiffed 147 batters the last two years in only 116 1/3 innings showing just how dominating he can be out of the pen. I look for him to do a good job for the Indians when he returns to health.
24-year old righty Chris Perez will serve as the closer until Wood is ready to return to action. At that time he will likely be switched back to the top set-up man role. Perez pitched in 61 games (0 starts) for the Indians & Cardinals last season in which he was 1-2 with 2 saves, a 4.26 ERA and a 1.19 WHIP. He only has allowed 41 hits in 57 innings last season while whiffing 68 batters showing just how good his stuff is. I think he will be up to the challenge for the Cleveland Indians in 2010.
26-year old lefty Tony Sipp will be the top reliever throwing from that side. Sipp pitched in 46 games (0 starts) for the Indians last year and he was 2-0 with a 2.92 ERA and a 1.30 WHIP. He only gave up 27 hits in 40 innings last season while whiffing 48 batters showing how good his stuff is. But he needs to clean up his control as he walked 25 hitters in 2009 and that is way too many.
26-year old side arming right Joe Smith will likely be one of the Indians’ middle relievers in 2010. He pitched in 37 games (0 starts) for the Indians last season and he was 0-0 with a 3.44 ERA and a 1.27 WHIP. He only gave up 30 hits in 34 innings last season while whiffing 30 batters which is pretty good.
25-year old righty Jensen Lewis will be pitching middle relief for the Indians too in 2010 unless he’s needed in late relief. Lewis pitched in 47 games (0 starts) for the Indians last season and he was 2-4 with 1 save, a 4.61 ERA and a 1.37 WHIP. He has now pitched in 124 games (0 starts) in his three years with the Indians and he is 3-9 with 14 saves, a 3.84 ERA and a 1.37 WHIP. Lewis is a battler who is capable of pitching late in games and I think he will have a good year for the Tribe in 2010.
27-year old lefty Rafael Perez is hoping to rebound from a terrible year in 2009. He pitched in 54 games (0 starts) for the Indians last season in which he was 4-3 with a 7.31 ERA and a 1.90 WHIP. He gave up 66 hits in only 48 innings for the Indians last season as he was pitching batting practice most of the year. In 2006-2008, Perez pitched in 135 games (0 starts) for the Indians in which he was 5-6 with 3 saves, a 2.89 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP. Perez has great stuff so maybe last year was just a bad one for him that he can rebound from in 2010.
35-year old righty Jamey Wright will probably be the long man in the pen for the Indians in 2010. Wright pitched in 65 games (0 starts) for the Royals last year and he was 3-5 with a 4.33 ERA and a 1.48 WHIP. He does have issues with control as he walked 44 batters in only 79 innings last season. He doesn’t have much of an upside.
32-year old righty Saul Rivera had a awful year last season for the Nationals but anyone that played for Manny Acta before he got to Cleveland probably has a leg up on the competition for a bullpen job. Rivera pitched in 30 games (0 starts) for the Nationals last season and he was 1-3 with a 6.10 ERA and a 1.62 WHIP. In his first three years with the Nationals Rivera pitched in 215 games (0 starts) in which he was 12-12 with 4 saves, a 3.72 ERA and a 1.46 WHIP. If he makes the Tribe’s bullpen in 2010 it will likely be as a middle man.
23-year old righty Jess Todd had a rough time last season in his first taste of the majors. He pitched in 20 games (0 starts) for the Cardinals & Indians last season in which he was 0-1 with a 7.66 ERA and a 1.93 WHIP. Todd also pitched in 44 games (0 starts) in AAA-ball last season and he was 4-2 with 25 saves, a 2.04 ERA and a 1.00 WHIP. Todd only allowed 40 hits in 53 innings last season in the minors while whiffing 66 batters as he was awesome in the minors. The Indians need Todd to take the next step in 2010.
29-year old lefty Mike Gosling is a longshot to make the Indians’ pitching staff at the start of the 2010 season. Gosling pitched in 15 games (0 starts) for the Indians last season in which he was 0-0 with a 5.04 ERA and a 1.64 WHIP. He also pitched in 29 games (4 starts) in AAA-ball last year and he was 7-4 with 1 save, a 4.81 ERA and a 1.52 WHIP.
PROJECTED GRADE FOR THE BULLPEN IN 2010: C