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Indians like their bullpen lineup sans Pestano

Francona to mix, match in seventh inning until his setup man returns

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Indians like their bullpen lineup sans Pestano play video for Indians like their bullpen lineup sans Pestano

CLEVELAND -- The Indians will undoubtedly miss having Vinnie Pestano at the back end of the bullpen. That does not mean the the rest of Cleveland's relief corps lacks confidence in its ability to fill in for the setup man while he tends to his ailing right elbow.

"We're really confident," Indians sidearmer Joe Smith said. "We've got a lot of really good arms down there, and guys that are eager to prove themselves, like Bryan Shaw and Cody Allen and Nick Hagadone. We have guys that can really step in and help pick us up until Vinnie gets back.

"Everybody's got to step up and do a little more right now, but we really need to make sure he's healthy and ready to go."

The Indians placed Pestano on the 15-day disabled list on Monday and will be without their primary eighth-inning arm until at least May 16, when he is first eligible for activation. While Pestano is sidelined, Smith will shift into the main setup role for All-Star closer Chris Perez.

Cleveland manager Terry Francona will likely mix and match relievers in the seventh inning.

Pestano, who set a single-season club record with 36 holds last year, has posted a 2.25 ERA through eight appearances for the Tribe this season. So far this season, the quintet of Smith, Shaw, Allen, Hagadone and Rich Hill have combined for a 2.27 ERA with 63 strikeouts against 23 walks in 43 2/3 innings for the Indians.

As a whole, the bullpen has been strong enough to the point where Pestano took on a self-deprecating view of the situation.

"The great thing about this team and the way that we're built," Pestano said, "is we've got a bunch of capable guys in the bullpen. I think our seven-eight-nine [inning] guys have the worst stuff. We just got here first, so that's why we're in those spots. We've got some great guys down there and we're going to be able to fill in the gaps with no problem."

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. Zack Meisel is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @zackmeisel. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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