Pitching has been in the spotlight during the first week of spring training for the Rangers. Cole Hamels, Derek Holland and the progress of Yu Darvish’s return from Tommy John surgery have collected the headlines, and rightfully so. But one key piece to the Rangers rotation has flew under the radar early on, and that piece is Martin Perez.
Perez is ticketed to be in the fourth spot in the rotation this season. The 24-year old lefty is less than two years removed from Tommy John surgery himself. He seemed a little rusty upon his return (which makes Darvish’s trip back even more interesting), but did look more like his former self over the final two months of last season. Perez got the ball in Game 3 of the ALDS against the Blue Jays, but was saddled with the loss mostly because his control became an issue against a strong Jays lineup.
So what does Perez bring? He won’t light up the radar gun, more of a ground ball pitcher, some may say a finesse pitcher. Fastball runs around 92-94 MPH along with a curve, changeup and slider. His slider is probably his money pitch when ahead of the count. Scouting report is that Perez is hittable, but can become very difficult to make good contact against when he mixes things up and has good movement on the ball. If the arm is fully healthy, and it seems like it is, pitchers who can create a ground ball clinic like Perez can eat up some innings. That does wonders when talking about bullpen rest.
I was probably one of the few that liked the idea of then-manager Ron Washington giving the young Perez the ball in Oakland during a key pennant race game in 2012. Perez was one of the top prospects in the system at the time so why not find out what you have. He didn’t throw that bad either, giving every indication that he could be someone you can give the ball to in big games.
So it will be interesting to see if Perez picks up where he left off last season. If he does, he makes the Rangers pitching staff that much better, possibly the best in the league.
By C. James