It is often said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result. At the same time, repetition is the key to anything, as it helps “transition a skill from the conscious to the subconscious.” Malcolm Gladwell and his 10,000 hours would agree. That said, walking to the garage, grabbing the hammer, then swinging it repeatedly towards one’s genitalia will bring pain. Every. Single. Time. Without fail. Trust me on this. But for some reason, we humans are an interesting species because we often get transfixed on the “This time is different” mantra. Man, life is too complicated. Anyways, for fantasy baseball, the huge sample size of stats allows us to ascertain a good lay of the landscape but there are always ebbs and flows, hot and cold streaks. In addition, one small tweak could alter the entire landscape. Martin Perez has had a FIP of at least 4.5 in each of the last six seasons but, in 2022, that number is at 2.44. He’s the 26th-best pitcher on the Razzball Player Rater to date. He’s been added in 34.1% of ESPN leagues over the past week and is coming off a complete-game shutout of the Houston Astros. I’ve been on this ride before and it’s rarely been pleasant, but I felt compelled to dig in further. Will I be falling for the Martin Perez in the tailpipe again?

Perez has been in the bigs since 2012. The career K/9 is 6.08 and FIP is 4.45. The swinging strike rate is 8.3%. He’s a soft-tossing lefty who has averaged around 92 mph on his fastball and has primarily relied on a cutter, sinker, and changeup.

In the first two starts of the season, he went four innings in both and allowed three earned runs in each contest. Since then, he’s gone at least six innings in six straight starts, not allowing an earned run in three of those contests and one earned run each in the other three. Things that make you go hmmmm. And the competition was stiff as he faced the Astros twice, the Red Sox, and the Phillies.

Is this just a hot streak or is there something substantial here?

The K/9 is only 6.93 while the walk rate is 2.19. The strikeout rate was 7.66 last season and has been in the high-6 to low-7 range over the last three seasons. The walk rate is a career-best, though, and he hasn’t allowed a home run yet in 49.1 innings. Looking at the BABIP, it’s .273, so he’s had some good fortune but nothing too dramatic.

The GB/FB is 1.79. Earlier in his career, that number was above 2 but, over the last three seasons, that number has been 1.34, 1.09, and 1.64. The line drive rate is a career-best 13% while the hard hit rate is 23.7%, the best mark since 2015.

Perusing the plate discipline numbers, the chase rate has increased 4% while the contact rates have dropped around 3 to 4%. The swinging strike rate is a career-best 9.9%. There have only been two seasons in which it was over 9%.

Now, the million dollar question is why?

The obvious answer is better control. The walks are down and he hasn’t been giving up meatballs. The Statcast data shows that the barrel rate is only 2.9%, a career-low. But is that the only reason for this hot streak? Because it doesn’t look to be completely luck-driven.

The pitch mix illuminates the answer. He’s throwing the fastball only 7.3% of the time. The career-average is 20.1% and last year was the prior low at 13.3%. The cutter usage has also decreased 8% from last season. The biggest change has been in the sinker usage, spiking up to 39.7%, an increase of 14.5% from last season.

The pitch has allowed him to neuter right-handed bats so far this season. Opposing righties are slashing .191/.254/.252 against him in 38.2 innings. Throughout his career, righties were slashing .292/.355/.455.

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I kind of get some Framber Valdez vibes, although Valdez throws a tick harder, utilizes the sinker 10% more often, and has a curveball to complement instead of the changeup for Perez. That said, both won’t have exorbitant strikeout rates, but will keep the number of balls put into the seats to a minimum and limit hard contact. Valdez has a 1.9% barrel rate this season.

I want to throw Perez into the trash because I’ve been hurt so often before but I just can’t. If he continues to rely on the sinker and control the pitch, then he can be a viable fantasy pitcher. Not top 25-ish because the strikeout rate will be low. There are some decent pitchers that primarily utilize the sinker: JT Brubaker, Logan Webb, Framber Valdez, and Sean Manaea.

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Joed1414
Joed1414
1 month ago

He was compared to Johan Santana coming up through the minors. Maybe he’s just reaching his potential aging like a fine wine. Grabbed him in one RCL. I’m in first over CW and Holt in the 2 leagues I’m in.

Last edited 1 month ago by Joed1414
Son
Son
Reply to  Joed1414
1 month ago

I did not know about the Johan comps. Good stuff. It’s possible that he’s figured something out. It’s also possible that it’s just a heater but I lean towards having figured out something.

Nice on your RCL! CW and Holt are excellent players, so it’s no small feat to be up on them

Joed1414
Joed1414
Reply to  Son
1 month ago

Maybe it’s just a heater on my part lol. In holts I’ve been hit with the injury bug. Bryant, Renfroe(holt grabbed him) Ward, Lowe, Kitterage, Acuna, had sale and Baz on IL already. It’s early yet though. Hopefully the pickups work out. Now I Just hve to somehow catch you and Mattress in the master standings. Yeah right haha!

J C
J C
1 month ago

Cut one from Teoscar, Yepez, Joe. Thank u

Son
Son
Reply to  J C
1 month ago

Yepez

Harley Earl
Harley Earl
1 month ago

Some guys just aren’t worth the roster spot. Perez is one of them.

Son
Son
Reply to  Harley Earl
1 month ago

The numbers would disagree with you

Jimmy
Jimmy
1 month ago

Nice work! What’s up with Javier Baez? Is he going to turn it on or do I trade him for future closer A.Diaz? 5×5 dynasty 13 team league!

Son
Son
Reply to  Jimmy
1 month ago

Looks like he’s hitting a lot more groundballs. Pitchers have been throwing him fewer fastballs and more sliders as well.

The trade question really depends on your squad. I usually lean towards keeping hitters. Trading for “future” closers is a dangerous game to play. That position is so volatile

toolshed
toolshed
1 month ago

Perez had a productive stretch last year from April 29 – June 3. He put up a 1.98 era and 3.12 fip. He eventually wound up in the bullpen. Maybe it is coincidence, but the timing of his current stretch of productivity is very similar.

Son
Son
Reply to  toolshed
1 month ago

Yup. He’s had these stretches in the past, hence the banana in the tailpipe reference. It’s likely that the same scenario plays out but I did find the new pitch mix interesting

toolshed
toolshed
Reply to  Son
1 month ago

I’m glad you did a deeper dive. I didn’t know anything was different. I assumed it was a hot streak where he was just feeling it. I could use his stats, but I chose to ignore him for fear of what might happen. Maybe it is foolish to think that way, but there is enough history to talk me out of falling for the banana trick.

Son
Son
Reply to  toolshed
1 month ago

Ha. I feel ya. It’s always tough when we’ve been hurt so bad before