GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Indians setup man Vinnie Pestano is coming off an outstanding rookie campaign, but the pitcher is a bit of a perfectionist. This spring, he has focused on improving on his performance against left-handed hitters.
"Things are going all right," Pestano said on Sunday morning. "It's coming along. "I'm really working hard on trying to neutralize lefties more this year. I've been throwing a lot of sliders in counts I might normally use my fastball, especially against lefties."
So far this spring, Pestano has fashioned a 1.08 ERA in 8 1/3 innings across eight Cactus League appearances. Along the way, the righty has piled up 11 strikeouts against five walks, with a .200 opponents' batting average. Pestano has surrendered six hits, but none have come from left-handed hitters.
Last season, when Pestano posted a 2.32 ERA in 67 relief outings for the Tribe, he had a .184 opponents' batting average overall. That included a .115 (15-for-130) mark against right-handed hitters and .280 (26-for-93) against lefties. Left-handed hitters collected nine extra-base hits against him, compared to only four by righties.
Pestano said the key for him will be to pay attention to how left-handed hitters are swinging against him from at-bat to at-bat. In certain situations, he might need to send a slider breaking down toward the back foot of a lefty. In other counts, it might make more sense for Pestano to throw a "backdoor" slider, which begins wide of the zone before breaking over the outside corner.
"It depends on how they're reacting to my pitches," said Pestano. "I've got a few more outings to work on it before the season starts."
Pestano is scheduled to pitch on back-to-back days for the first time this spring on Monday and Tuesday. He is slated to work in a Cactus League contest against the Brewers on Monday, and then he will move to the more controlled environment of a Minor League game on Tuesday at the Indians' complex.