Can Martin Perez finally stick with the Texas Rangers?
That’s a bit of a tricky question that’s yet to be answered, but if Saturday was any indication, the youngster will simply force the issue and leave no doubts entirely.
Long the team’s top pitching prospect, the 22-year-old is not entirely without major league experience, although his six uneven starts (and a handful of relief outings) was hardly the impact that the Rangers wanted their prized youngster to make. The same could be said about his lone MLB start in 2013 prior to Saturday, a 5.1 IP, four-run (three earned) performance where Perez allowed nine hits in a losing effort.
Not only did he snap his personal losing streak at five in his latest chance, though, he did it decisively.
Allowing just a pair of runs on five hits and a walk through seven innings while striking out a trio of batters, the southpaw out-dueled rookie sensation Shelby Miller and the St. Louis Cardinals en route to taking a 4-2 victory. The overall line, though, doesn’t illustrate the most impressive thing about this outing, which is the fact that Perez got stronger as the game went on.
To be perfectly fair, the lefty did not look particularly impressive over his first two innings, allowing both of the runs on his day on three hits in the first two frames and needing 32 pitches to get the first six outs. The 15 after that? He practically breezed through the Cards lineup, using just 50 pitches on the remainder of his day.
That run included his last 10 batters in a row, and though it’s not like he was making his opponents look particularly silly, you can’t say he wasn’t very effective.
With a game score of 61, this was the best start of his young career, and it comes at a particularly good time as opportunities to grab hold of a starting rotation spot with the Rangers have arguably not been this plentiful in some time.
Perez is up because Alexi Ogando simply can’t demonstrate that he can maintain his health as a starter, but even if he bounces back from his latest DL stint in full force, it’s not as though Justin Grimm (5.57/1.54 ERA/WHIP) is making a particularly compelling case either.
In short, if he can take this opportunity now and put up a few more starts like this, Perez will leave the Rangers without much of a choice as to where the next portion of his career development should take place.