January 18, 2007


Howard Megdal at Gotham Baseball, writes about Oliver Perez and how the 2007 season may be where we see him break out as a Met:

Let’s start at the beginning. Perez shot through the Padres minor league system, and posted a 3.50 ERA (and better than a K per inning) over 90 innings as a 20-year-old relief pitcher at the major league level. Returning to AAA, he posted a 3.02 ERA as a 21-year-old, and after being dealt to Pittsburgh, he struck out 239 batters in 196 innings as a 22-year-old with an ERA of 2.98. A pitcher posting those kinds of numbers as a 22-year-old at AA would be considered a valuable property- Perez did it at that age against major league hitters.

Many people point to Perez’s 2005-2006 stats as reason to be doubtful about his 2007 success. Had the Mets not traded for him, and had there not been nine subsequent starts to evaluate, that would be a reasonable position. Perhaps Perez would never put his mechanics back into place, like fellow former Pirate Steve Blass. Perhaps he was hiding an injury, which is frequently the cause for sudden drops in velocity.

But we have the advantage of those nine starts. While Perez’s overall numbers were not awe-inspiring, we saw progression in A) his velocity, returning to a consistent 94-95 MPH and touching 97-98, B) the movement on his slider and ability to throw his curveball for strikes, and best of all C) an increase in both his first-pitch strikes and overall number of strikes in each start. It also put to rest any concerns that his problems were injury-related, the number-one killer of young pitching.

How rare a season awaits Mets fans in 2007? In Perez’s 7 regular-season and two postseason starts, he struck out 48 in 48 and 2/3 innings, and in his career, even including the lost Pittsburgh seasons of 05-06 (when his K rate dropped precipitously), he’s fanned 673 in 628 1/3 innings. The last Mets starter to strike out more than a batter per inning? David Cone, 1992.

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