Martin Perez was a highly valued prospect in the Rangers system for a long time. Baseball Prospectus rated him the no. 15 top prospect in MLB prior to the 2010 season. As Perez navigated the minors, his numbers were solid, but not eye catching. With his seasons in the minors, his prospect ranking fell each year. From 15 in 2010 to 33 to 36 and finally to 59 prior to the 2013 season. With each year came questions about his ability. With his call up to Arlington in 2012 and again in 2013, Perez has been a good pitcher for the Ranger with signs of being great at times. But in 2014, Martin Perez has been pretty brilliant.
Perez has thrown 17 consecutive scoreless innings with his complete game shutout of the Chicago White Sox last night. His ERA has dropped to a low 1.86 which is good enough for third on the Rangers behind Yu Darvish (0.82) and Robbie Ross (1.00). Martin is attacking hitters the same way he's always done: keep the ball down and try to induce ground balls. This year, he has been much more successful which is evident by inducing nine double plays.
But he's not just getting lucky, he's pitching much better. His strikeout percentage (19.1 percent) is up over his first two years, his walk percentage is down (6.7 percent) and the BAbip (Batting average on balls in play) is almost at the same rate as 2013 at .299. Perez is pitching consistently, which is something that he struggled with in his first two years in Arlington.
Last night's game versus Chicago is an excellent example of Martin's ability and what he can accomplish at the Major League level. This is the strikezone from last night, and where Perez's pitches crossed the plate.
While Yu Darvish is the ace, Robbie Ross is the nice surprise and everyone is hanging on for Colby Lewis and Matt Harrison to return; Martin Perez has been the silent assasin, which the Rangers have desperately needed. Perez is not going to strike out ten hitters consistently, he is going to get six or seven and be solid while giving the Rangers a chance to win. On occassion he is going to shut down the opponent, just as he has accomplished in the last two starts. One of those teams was Houston, but the other was a hot offense in the White Sox, who entered Fridays' game in the top five in Major League Baseball in batting average and is still top five in runs (87) and home runs (20). Perez is getting better and better and has the talent to shut down a powerful offense, just like he did in St. Louis last year.
The contract Perez signed might be the bargain of the decade.
17 consecutive scoreless innings.
Martin Perez is 23 years old.
Patrick Despain is the former CEO of ShutdownInning.com and co-host of a new Rangers podcast launching later this month. You can follow him on Twitter @PatrickDespain or reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.