There has been one constant to Martin Perez’s performance since his return from 2 ½ months on the disabled list: His inconsistency.
This is not the way for a guy with an option in his contract to roll towards the finish of the season.
In a 7-2 loss to New York Sunday, Perez failed to make it through the sixth and followed the good start/bad start that has been the pattern to his injury-interrupted season. He allowed five runs in the fifth inning and didn’t record an out in the sixth.
On Sunday, the sinker and changeup were good for four innings, but he completely eliminated the breaking ball and by the third trip through the lineup, the Yankees were able to sit on one pitch.
“The fastball-changeup combo works well for him,” manager Jeff Banister said. “When the breaking ball is in play, it’s a better set for him. … He seemed to get into a little bit of a pattern and they seemed to make a change in their approach in the fifth inning.”
Perez threw only three breaking balls, according to Brooks-Baseball.net. It was the fewest number of breaking pitches he’s ever thrown in a start. The neglect of the pitch is a recent development. He threw six breaking balls in his last start, but and 51 over the two starts previous. For his career, he averages about 20 breaking balls per 100 pitches.
It was Perez’s sixth start since returning from the DL on July 14. He missed 10 weeks dealing with inflammation in his non-throwing elbow that was originally caused by an accident in which a bull on his family’s farm in Venezuela startled him. He has yet to make consecutive quality starts, or for that matter, consecutive starts of six innings in 11 outings this season.
Perez allowed a home run to Giancarlo Stanton in the first inning, then pitched effectively for the next three innings. But, as the lineup turned over for a second time, he created more trouble for himself. He allowed hits to seven of the last nine hitters he faced and ended up charged with seven runs in five-plus innings.
“I started to get some pitches up,” Perez said. “I need to keep the ball down.”
The Rangers are going to have to make a decision about Perez, who has an option worth $7.5 million for 2019. If the club chooses not to bring him back, it would owe him a $750,000 buyout.
On the surface, bringing him back would seem to be simple. A bottom-of-the-rotation starter is worth about that much. The reality: That’s all Perez is at this point, more than six years since his major league debut.