Appreciating Toronto Blue Jays' Juan Perez

By Thom Tsang
Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

So just who is Juan Perez?

Well, there’s a good chance that most fans of the game didn’t know who the southpaw was, and I certainly count myself in that group. In fact, it’s probably not much of a stretch to say that even the most ardent followers of the Toronto Blue Jays didn’t really have a good idea of who he was either prior to just a few weeks ago.

After all, this was a 34-year-old career minor league journeyman with all of 27.2 innings of work in the bigs prior to this season. He’s what’s commonly referred to as ‘minor league depth’, a warm body to go out on the mound because somebody has to.

If there was such a thing as limbo in professional baseball — he was knee-deep in it.

That, however, isn’t what who Blue Jays nation has come to know since May 29, when he was called up to the bigs as a long reliever to bolster a pitching staff that was running out of arms once again. In the month between then and now, the fans have only come to know him as one thing: dynamite, shutdown strikeout artist.

Already a 0.6 fWAR player through just 15 innings of work spread across eight outings, you might even say that Perez has already performed beyond the Blue Jays’ wildest expectations.

Including Thursday’s three-inning flawless outing in which he struck out three to keep the team  from being as competitive in a 7-0 as one can, the veteran continued his perfect streak of not allowing an earned run. The lefty is the only member of the Blue Jays staff to have a 0.00 ERA, and his 0.73 WHIP is just behind closer Casey Janssen‘s fantastic 0.70 mark.

In short, Perez has been just about unhittable thus far, owning a .160 BAA in what has easily been his best MLB stint over his career.

Think it has to do with luck because of his .229 BABIP? Nah — not while he’s giving up line drives at a weak 14.3 percent and is practically a ground ball machine, inducing them at a 65.7 percent rate. Take that 3.29 GB/FB ratio along with a 5.00 K/BB thanks to an even 9.0 K/9?

Well, you’ve got Juan Perez, the unheralded, unexpected secret weapon for Toronto that might not stay that way for very much longer.

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