Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Say What? Cleveland's Rafael Perez a starter?

World Baseball Classic - Puerto Rico Day 2
Are the Cleveland Indians planning on moving Rafael Perez to the starting rotation?

On Tuesday Night, not only did Rafael Perez start the game for his Dominican Winter League team, Gigantes del Cibao, but his numbers were off the charts. Perez went four innings, giving up only one hit, walking three, while striking out five batters. Regardless of what the Indians plan on doing with Perez in the future, the numbers certainly are a positive sign.

It's likely that the Indians are just hoping to get Perez innings, as they do with relievers in spring training to ensure they get work. It would be an interesting move, however, should the Indians decide to make Perez a starter. It wouldn't be new teritory for the 27-year-old lefty.

Of Perez' 115 minor league games, 76 of those were starts
. He was effective as a starter, but the Indians saw a need at the back end of their bullpen and felt that Perez could be a candidate for the set-up role short term, and perhaps the closer role long-term. Everything seemed to be going according to plan in 2007 until the playoffs, then it was all uphill for Perez, whose had his struggles since then.

At this point, if the Indians are throwing Perez as a starter up against a wall to see if it sticks, I'm pretty okay with that. As a matter of fact, I'm pretty okay with whatever the Indians and Manny Acta try to do to kickstart the team. I'm not sure messing with the bullpen is necessarily the way to go, but it's not like it could be worse than it was last year. Perez was rubberbanded back and forth so much in the midst of it all, he probably thought he was playing winterball some time around August.

It should be interesting to see what Perez will do for the rest of the winter league season. His first and only other appearance was on November 20th in his normal role as set-up man. It was equally crisp, as he went the entire eighth inning, giving up a walk, and striking out two.

Will he start next? Will he relieve next? Who knows. Let's just hope Acta and the Indians management make up their mind. Perez has seen enough roller coaster rides in the past.

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