Game 85, Mariners at Rangers
Hisashi Iwakuma vs. Martin Perez, 5:05pm
Happy 4th of July – sincerely hope everyone enjoys the holiday. Canadians, I know you just celebrated, but I think you really get into the spirit of July 4th by blowing off work and celebrating again. I celebrated Canada Day in a quiet, understated way by having some red wine and a sensible dinner at home – I like to think you appreciated the gesture. Today’s not really about “quiet” or “understated” however, so have a beer and yell at the Rangers on TV. Or whatever else it is you’d like to do today (freedom!).
It’s fitting that the M’s are playing in Texas, somehow. Though modern-day Texans lustily celebrate today’s holiday, they’ve less reason to celebrate than those of us in more civilized lands. It’s true of course that Washington wasn’t an original colony, and there wasn’t much of a population here when the US celebrated its centennial. But I like to think we’re celebrating some enduring values, some principles, when we dust off our copy of the Declaration of Independence. It’s the call to reason, the clear, sober delineation of grievances and a demand of redress, not of blood or vengeance. Many point out the myriad ways in which the country founded by people who wrote the federalist papers, the constitution and the declaration has failed to live up to those values. Fair enough, but I’d like to think we can ALL come together in the celebration of universal natural rights. All of us except Texans, maybe.
Texas was created as a Republic, bitterly divided between those who wanted to gradually join the Union, and those who wanted to stay a republic, drive out Native Americans and march west to the sea. Eventually, the unionists won out, but the victory proved temporary. Texas was one of the original seven states of the Confederacy; less than 20 years after joining the union, they took up arms against it. Following *that* defeat, they continue to observe Confederate Memorial day as a state holiday. I’m all for having holidays. I’m drinking a beer and I’m not going to work right now. But it seems a bit odd to really celebrate the 4th of July seven months after Confederate Heroes day*.
Martin Perez, as I’ve mentioned before in these previews, was a Top 100 prospect for what felt like a decade. A rough introduction to AAA in 2011 was followed by a rough start to 2012, culminating in a disastrous start in Tacoma in which the likes of Scott Savastano battered a laboring Perez to a pulp. After a regroup and work with the Rangers’ coaches, Perez started to put things together down the stretch – aided by the fact that his velocity ticked up a bit. He touched the mid-90s routinely as a teen and into his early 20s, but was in the low-90s early in 2012. When he debuted with Texas he was averaging 92-93, and has progressed further this year, as he’s sitting at about 94 with his four-seam fastball.
A brilliant outing in relief last year – against the M’s – saw him rack up 5Ks in 4+ innings, still his career high (tied with a 6IP start vs. Oakland), and pushed him into the starting rotation in September. His results there were mixed, and he wasn’t able to lock down the 5th spot in the Rangers’ rotation this spring. Injuries and great run of form for Round Rock have led to another opportunity, though, and he appears to be capitalizing – he’s coming off six shutout innings against a good Cincinnati team. Perez’ success has come without the aid of strikeouts, and without much of any success at all against righties. His FIP’s OK thanks to a very low walk rate and fantastic luck on HR/FB, but his K rate’s worse than Blake Beavan’s 2012 mark because he’s got nothing to throw to righties.
Last year, he tried a curve ball along with his slider and change, but he’s largely scrapped that in favor of the change in 2013. The change isn’t a terrible pitch, but it’s not exactly a swing-and-miss pitch, and unlike last year, his fastball’s not fooling any right-handed hitters. He’s kept it in the park, but BABIP and HR/FB won’t make up for actual stuff. That said, scouts have been raving about Perez’s stuff for years, so it’s possible he’s got more stuff than he’s shown thus far. Still, a full-strength M’s team would be a decent match-up, as a 2-3-4 of Franklin, Morse and Morales would presumably trouble the Venezuelan. But the M’s *aren’t* at full strength, and filling out a line-up that reflects Perez’s weakness means giving Brendan Ryan a start. Ah well.
The M’s are going for their first sweep in Texas since September of 2001. Do it for America, Mariners!
The Rainiers are in Salt Lake, with Brian Sweeney on the hill. Roenis Elias is pitching right now for Jackson in Pensacola, and Andrew Carraway’s making a rehab start in Everett tonight (he threw four hitless innings against Spokane five days ago).
* In bitter, Texas-sized irony, Confederate Heroes’ Day sometimes coincides with Martin Luther King day.