Oliver Perez Called Up, Chih-Hsien Chiang DFA’d.
It seemed like such a good idea at the time. The Red Sox outfielder had a mediocre performance record until 2011, when he went nuts for a few months in the AA Eastern League. Even better, there seemed to be a good explanation – a dietary change helped him manage his diabetes, giving him more energy. Like so many baseball narratives based on correlation, this one doesn’t seem to have held up. The M’s designated the struggling Chiang for assignment today when they added Oliver Perez to the 40-man. Chiang was demoted from Tacoma to Jackson earlier in the year, and never got going in the M’s organization. He may pass through waivers, so he may have another chance, but things don’t look good at this point.
Oliver Perez signed a minor league deal with the M’s in the spring, after his legendarily terrible contract expired. The former Pirate once had an above-average fastball that he used to post great K rates as a starter, though to be fair, it had been years since he’d done so. More recently, a move to the bullpen with the Nats couldn’t stop his free fall, as his FB was frequently in the upper 80s, and coupled it with poor command (which was below average even when he was an all-star). This year, however, he’s shown signs of life – his fastball started getting better, hitting the mid 90s at times. He’s still walking way too many hitters, but his K rate is now nearly 30%. Against lefties, he’s been amazing, striking out 24 of the 60 he’s faced (40% Ks) and giving up only one HR. Unfortunately, another LOOGY or left-handed long reliever isn’t at all what the M’s need. Lucas Luetge and Charlie Furbush have been lights out all year, and Furbush has shown the ability to go multiple innings if needed.
Perez earned a shot, but this move has more to do with his contract than it does with the big club’s needs. Perez’s split contract meant he could opt for free agency if he hadn’t been called up to Seattle by June 15th. The M’s decided having a surplus lefty was better than losing a lefty who threw 95, and I guess that’s a fair point. To make room on the 25-man roster, Steve Delabar moved back to Tacoma after a few games with Seattle. Delabar can hopefully actually work on his breaking ball instead of bouncing back and forth, and the M’s now have the ability to make late inning games last longer than even Tony LaRussa dared dream. Oliver Perez! Another weird comeback story! LOOGYs everywhere!