Saturday, December 5, 2009

Another sizzling start for Rafael Perez

Rafael Perez continued to make the Dominican winter league his playground with another blistering start that gave him his first win for Gigantes del Cibao. Tonight, he went six innings, giving up only four hits and one run while striking out six without walking a batter. The bad news? Perez saw his ERA jump 0.60 of a run. The good news? His ERA is 0.60 in 15 total innings of work.

The four hits that the lanky lefty allowed were all singles, two of which were of the infield variety. Three of the singles were clustered together in the second inning,
in which he gave up his only run of the season thusfar. Of his 12 recorded outs, eight were ground balls. Of the 21 batters he faced, 17 failed to hit balls out of the infield. In other words, he was electric.

The irony of all this is that the Cleveland Indians management sent Rafael Perez to the Dominican Republic with a singular mission, to become consistent with his delivery as a reliever. To do that, the Tribe braintrust of Mark Shapiro, Manny Acta and Tim Belcher chose to use the winter league as a spring training of sorts for the beleaguered reliever. They decided to start Perez so that he could get guaranteed work, and get the repetition that would give him a more dependable delivery.

Now I can't be the only one that sees the common sense side to all of this, can I? If Perez needs to start in the winter leagues to get the multiple innings to create consistency in his delivery, why wouldn't he just start, period? Admittedly, it's too early to make any definitive statements about the future of Perez with regards to starting or relieving, but his past three starts have certainly at least put Perez into the starting rotation equation.

In 2007, the Indians caught lightning in a bottle when Fausto Carmona moved from the bullpen to the starting rotation. He found consistency in his delivery, and was electric. Could Perez do the same?

Perez does have some issues that could work against his potential as a starter. His fastball is a consistent 88-90. He does have a natural cut to his heat, which makes it more elusive. His slider is his true plus pitch when consistent, and is nearly unhittable when he's going good. He does also have a fair changeup, although he hasn't had to use it in his years in the pen, and isn't considered a plus pitch. Like Carmona before him, he would need to perfect that third pitch before he could make a final move to start.

Can Perez continue his consistency to allow him to start? Can he develop a third pitch that won't have batters sitting on his fastball? Does Perez and his slight frame have the stamina to pitch seven innings a night? All those questions would have to be answered prior to a potential move, and they aren't even the biggest question.

Will Mark Shapiro, Manny Acta and Tim Belcher think outside the box to allow even the thought of Perez returning to his role as starter? My hope is that Tribe management will turn over every rock, and consider every option with regards to the 2010 Indians. If they do, perhaps this ship can be righted.

Either way, it's good to see Perez pitching back to 2007 form. Let's hope it carries over to the 2010 season.

No comments:

Post a Comment