The Pitcher Profile corner is back after an off-week of profiling. If you listen to the Razzball Baseball Podcast, I was indeed in Oklahoma but it was the exact opposite of Nick’s rendition. I think Nick is just mad at my Canadian bashing. Here is how I would describe his normal weekend:
It’s icy today. Fishing?
Pail. Cut hole.
Maybe a bite?
Maybe this time?
Oh wait, that was just me shaking from hypothermia. Now I have to get an ass cheek amputated.
Alas, I have returned to my humble home and ready to breakdown another pitcher for loyal Pitcher Profile purists. Say that three times fast. I know we had all talked about a Scott Kazmir breakdown after a really solid post-ASB run, but he’s now experiencing dead arm, or another symptom from ice fishing or the resulting circle jerk to try and stay warm. Either way it’s looking like Kazmir will miss at least one start and coming off a bashing against the Angels, I decided to pick someone else that’s rapidly climbing up my fantasy radar.
Martin Perez was never a guy I was too high on, he didn’t look particularly sharp in his 2013 debut against Tyler Skaggs where I broke down the Diamondbacks rook, and it looked like Skaggs would be the bigger contributor this year. Oh how things change… Skaggs now sports a 5.35 ERA and is back in AAA while Perez is currently on a spectacular run of 3 starts and looks primed to be a factor as you push for a title through the end of the season. While I did watch Perez inquisitively in that start against Skaggs months ago, I didn’t really approach him with the same fine-tooth comb (cut to the Spaceballs afro pick guys) as a Pitcher Profile, so I decided to breakdown Perez’s stellar start yesterday afternoon to see how he looks:
First Inning: Perez’s first pitch is a 93-MPH fastball on the outer edge for strike one to Robbie Grossman and Geovany Soto has it fall out of his glove on a first pitch of the game strike… Don’t see that very often… Perez goes right down the middle with a change-up, this one at 83-MPH, and Grossman almost swung out of his shoes out in front of that one, 0-2. Grossman thought that was going to be a dead red fastball and Perez pulled the string hard on that one, nice change-up. Perez pounds the inside corner with heat, still at 93, then another change is fouled off Grossman’s foot, then another fastball gets on Grossman’s fists and he grounds out weakly to second, one down. Perez starts L.J. Hoes with a fastball that sails high then is low with the change-up, followed by a fastball on the outer edge fouled back and out of play, 2-1. Perez then smokes another 93-MPH heater on the knees taken for a strike, great pitch, then a change is fouled, then Perez’s first slider at 88-MPH is taken just low, full count. The payoff pitch is another change-up, Perez starts it at the bottom of the zone and it just dies, getting Hoes to swing over it and badly, for Perez’s first K. Perez now starts Jose Altuve with a fastball high, then another right down the middle is crushed down the first base line, newly acquired Alex Rios dives for it in right to no avail giving Altuve the double, but Rios picks it up quickly off the wall and launches to Ian Kinsler on a perfect relay and they get Altuve at third to end the inning. Saved by his defense there to get a 1-2-3 inning.
Second Inning: Still a 0-0 game, Perez starts Chris Carter with a fastball right down the middle and Carter gets a pretty good piece of it, but it’s caught on the warning track in right center for the first out. That might’ve been a homer in Texas. But it’s one down on one pitch and Perez starts Matt Dominguez with a great first-pitch change-up on the lower outside corner for strike one, then Perez hits close to the same spot with a 93-MPH fastball, Dominguez hits it off the end of the bat weakly to second, and it’s two-down quickly. First pitch to Brett Wallace is a 92-MPH fastball low and in, but he hacks at it and misses, 0-1, then a nasty fastball that looked right on the black low and in is called a ball, 1-1. Nice pitch and location. Perez stays inside with a change-up that Wallace turns on and pulls foul, 1-2, then another heater inside hits 94 and gets Wallace to foul tip it in the mitt, good thing Soto held onto that one, for Perez’s 2nd K to end the inning.
Third Inning: The game still scoreless, Perez’s first offering to Astros backstop Carlos Corporan is a 92-MPH fastball his hard to left for a first-pitch leadoff single. Perez starts Brandon Barnes with a change low, then another change going low Barnes can’t hold off on gets a check-swing strike, and the 1-1 is a 94-MPH fastball outside, 2-1. HItting 94 multiple times now, love the velocity, I think it’s a tick higher than that debut. Another change-up is popped up to right and Rios is able to snag it just in foul territory, one down. Perez starts 9 hole hitter Jake Elmore with a fastball taken for a strike, then another heater is low, followed by a change low, 2-1. Another fastball is low and somehow popped into the air over Soto’s head and Corporan is able to advance to second. That’s scored a wild pitch, but Soto should’ve been able to block that somehow. So the 3-1 is a fastball that stays outside for a walk to Elmore, runners at 1st and 2nd with still the one out. Back to the top of the order and Perez starts Grossman with a change-up that’s waved at and missed, 0-1 and Grossman can’t pick up on the change-up. Perez sticks with the change but it dips too low, then a fastball on the outside corner is fouled out of play, 1-2. Another fastball, again hitting 94 and on the hands is hit weakly to Jurickson Profar at short, but Profar has enough time to take it himself to second and throw Grossman out at first to end the inning on the double play.
Fourth Inning: This game flying by with opposing pitcher Dallas Keuchel going 12 up and 12 down, and Perez starts Hoes with a slider that catches the outside corner (funny story, my 11th grade binder for history I stylized History Of thE americaS and we had to use that as a reference to 12th grade and that teacher took it out of the plastic and scribbled “if this is funny to you we’re going to have a long year…” But she ended up liking me…) then Perez’s first curveball gets tapped foul, then Perez paints the low black at the knees at 94 for a strikeout looking. What a sequence with a slider, curve, then fastball. First pitch to Altuve is skied to right for an easy out, two quick outs, and Perez starts Carter with a fastball low then a change-up is in there, followed by a nasty backdoor slider for another called strike, 1-2. Perez then dials up another heater at the knees, 94 and on the black perfectly for his fourth K looking. Looking unreal right now.
Fifth Inning: The Rangers finally pick up a run for Perez and he starts Dominguez with a heater low, then some chin music high followed by a change-up that dips barely low, 2-1. Another change-up stays low, 3-1 and a fastball at the knees nibbles the bottom black, 3-2. That got the Astros bench yelling, then it’s followed by another fastball at the knees, this one maybe an inch higher, and it’s taken and definitely a strike again, 5 Ks for Perez, one down. First pitch to Wallace is a fastball taken, then a slider is fouled off, then a change on the hands is fouled off, still 0-2. Perez keeps pounding Wallace inside with a fastball too far in, then two more fouled off, and yet another fouled off on the fists, still 1-2. Then Perez tries to spin either a slider or curveball and it squirts out of his hand and hits Wallace for a free base. Tough to give up the runner there. Up is Corporan who gets under the first-pitch change to fly out to right for an easy out, two down. So Perez starts Barnes with consecutive balls, then another fastball is low and all the sudden Perez has lost something. He pounds the zone getting it to 3-1, but loses a 93-MPH fastball low to get runners on first and second. Out comes Ron Washington for a chat, interesting to see the manager over pitching coach Mike Maddux, but it seemed to be the right move as Elmore grounds the first pitch to Adrian Beltre at third who applies the tag on Wallace and gets Perez out of the inning.
Sixth Inning: During the top of the 6th, Perez gets his push-off foot worked on by trainers and it has a huge bandaid over his bunion… Hopefully everything is OK, but that seems worth monitoring. He starts the 6th pouring in a 91-MPH fastball to Grossman after picking up another run of support, then a curveball is spun in there 0-2, then Perez zips a heater right on the inside corner for his 6th K looking. What a sequence. Outside heater, drop the hammer, inside heater. Perez gets in a fastball, then a change-up in nearly the same spot gets grounded weakly to second by Hoes, two down. Then the first pitch to Altuve is grounded very weakly to short for another easy out, a 6-pitch inning, great stuff. No concern right now with that foot.
Seventh Inning: Still protecting a 2-0 lead, Perez starts Carter high then another fastball high gets Carter on a bad looking 3/4 swing, 1-1. A change-up is poured in on the inside corner, 1-2, then a fastball is fouled back followed by a backdoor slider that just didn’t slide, 2-2. Another change is tapped foul, then Perez paints that low black at the knees with the heater for another K looking. That’s three of those now – locking up hitters right at the knees with heat – great stuff. Not much you can do with that anyway, even if you’re not an Astros hitter. First pitch to Dominguez is a change-up that Dominguez nubs to short for a quick second out. Perez is just rolling right now. Wallace fouls off the first-pitch slider, then a slider gets hit weakly to the gap to Profar’s right, but Profar ranges to it and makes a spectacular play throwing out Wallace to end the inning. That probably made some highlights reels, and more great defense behind Perez.
Eighth Inning: Protecting the shutout, Perez starts the 8th with a fastball to Corporan showing bunt but takes it, 0-1, then a change-up gets a foul out of play, 0-2. Perez again hits 94 on the gun but it’s low, 1-2, great to see the velocity still up, and then a change-up goes low, 2-2. Perez keeps working fast and throws a nasty change-up on the outside corner that gets a swing-and-miss for Perez’s 8th K. Great, great pitch. Perez stays with a first-pitch change to Barnes and gets a very weak popup to first, two down. Perez starts Elmore with a fastball for a strike on the outer black, then a fastball on the hands gets a foul down the third base line, 0-2. Just pounding the zone. Perez hits 94 again with a fastball barely outside, actually it looked good but Soto did no favors with the framing, then Perez drops a change-up low, 2-2. A fastball is ripped foul, then a solid change-up gets a reaching swing that slaps a single to left. A nice pitch there, just a fortunate hit. So Perez starts Grossman with a slider for a first-pitch strike, nice stuff there, then a fastball tapped foul and it’s another 0-2 count. Perez hits 95 for the first time today, and gets a foul straight back, awesome to see Perez topping out late. Perez goes with the change-up and gets a pretty solidly hit flyball to center, but Leonys Martin is there to end the inning.
Ninth Inning: Out comes Perez to try and finish this one off, and the first pitch is a fastball inside taken for strike one to Hoes, then is outside and back inside with the slider, 2-1, then gets a nasty swing-and-miss on a change-up on the outside corner, 2-2. Perez misses outside on his 100th pitch, then the payoff pitch is a fastball hit weakly to second, one out. Perez starts Altuve with a heater low, then a fastball gets in there, 1-1, followed by a change-up nubbed weakly in front of Perez for an easy out, two down. So Perez is at 105 pitches and gets a slider over for strike one to Carter, then almost spins a curveball on the outside edge but it stays outside, 1-1. A fastball gets on his fists to make it 1-2, but then a change-up, this one at 86 gets hammered by a reaching Carter who blasts it to left center for a homer. Perez was one pitch away from the complete game shut out… It hung a tad and the speed was a little too quick, I think Perez just overthrew it. So up is Dominguez who takes outside then takes a strike, a backdoor slider nips the zone 1-2. Perez throws a nasty change-up that Dominguez barely holds up on, that was close, then Dominguez fouls one off, and his final pitch is a 94-MPH fastball on the outside corner and gets a very weak grounder right to him to end the game. Great performance.
Final Line: 9 IP 115 Pitches (80 Strikes) 1 ER 4 Hits 2 Walks 8 K Gamescore: 81 Gamescore+: 77.4
Final Analysis: Just unreal stuff from Perez who mowed down the Astros from the get-go. His Gamescore+ proved a little lower than his Gamescore and I’ve made a minor change that double play balls are two times the normal out grade, to help the value of getting double play balls in its calculation. But he didn’t get rewarded any extra points on the Altuve throw out, as that was all in the field. I think the Gamescore+ just proved lower because Perez pitched so deep and the Gamescore stat rewards the deeper you go.
Perez’s stuff looked down right dynamite. I really like the future of this kid. He’s not especially tall at 6-0, but he still looks big out there and has a big fastball. Usually at 92-93, Perez hit 94 frequently and 95 once in the eighth inning, with great control and can keep it down. His control of the bottom black was impeccable, and that’s where you want to see pitchers pouring them in. The change-up is Perez’s bread and butter, he’s increased it’s usage this year over last and is as good a 1-2 combo from a lefty I’ve seen this year. The slider and curveball are both solid albeit infrequently used, but the fact he can mix those in here and there just shows you the arsenal he can keep developing (he’s still only 22!). When I saw his debut vs. Skaggs, I think I remember him using more curveballs than the handful in this start, and a lot fewer change-ups. His velocity also seems to have jumped up, now averaging 93.2 on his heater for the year which is fantastic for a lefty.
A big reason I chose Perez, beyond the stellar start yesterday, was looking ahead at his schedule down the stretch. If the rotation holds up, he’ll get vs. SEA, @ CHW, @ SEA, @ OAK, vs. PIT, vs. OAK, @ KC and vs. HOU to close out his year. Wowzah. Hard not to have him a sure-fire pickup in all leagues right now. I’m now going to try and trade for him in my dynasty league, and hope my leaguemates don’t read this post…