Before the 2020 season has even started for the Boston Red Sox, they have been met with heavy criticism. That is largely due to the with the horrific offseason they underwent. The ball club traded away David Price and Mookie Betts and fired manager Alex Cora amid a sign stealing scandal. The Sox also seemingly failed to upgrade at any position while still claiming that they want to “compete” this season.
The Red Sox will be better than most people expect. Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts, and J.D. Martinez are still on this team. Still, that doesn’t mean they are going to be competitive when it comes to winning the American League pennant.
Boston’s pitching depth is already minimal, and Chris Sale is already having elbow issues after being shelved for the latter part of 2019 with an arm problem. It does appear Sale’s arm is better than originally thought, with no surgery scheduled as of yet, but elbow complications in March are never a sign of good things to come.
This then brings us back to the point where people question why Boston had not tried to add more pitching. The argument can be made that they will be “adding” Nathan Eovaldi after his injury riddled 2019, but what after that? The answer: Martin Perez.
Personally, I am not excited for Perez’s outlook this season. The lefty’s best season came seven years ago. So why did the Red Sox feel a sense of urgency to go out and sign this guy after he posted a 5.12 ERA last season with the Minnesota Twins? That is another great question being asked, but the answer to this one is a bit more complicated.
New Red Sox General Manager Chaim Bloom comes from the front office of the Tampa Bay Rays. This is relevant because Tampa has been considered a sort-of trailblazing organization when it comes to baseball.
Due to their lack of economic resources, Tampa has to figure out ways to win baseball games without shelling money out. They do this by drafting well, integrating fielding shifts, and making smart baseball trades. But the Rays have also had plenty of success in finding guys that fall through the cracks. This is were Perez fits.
It may come to be true that Perez wasn’t the type of player Bloom thought he was getting, but Boston’s front office did have reasoning in going out and signing him at the very start of free agency.
Perez’s Exit Velocity / Hard Hit – Rate
Last season with the Twins, Perez was able to limit opposing batters to an average exit velocity of 85.4 miles per hour. The former Texas Ranger also held hitters to a “hard-hit” rate of only 29.7 percent. Both of those numbers ranked in the top seven percent for all MLB pitchers.
In his first season with Minnesota, Perez introduced his cut-fastball for the very first time. The Twins had Perez throw the pitch about 30 percent of the time, and it was by far his most effective. The pitch held opponents to a .214 average last season.
I have no idea what to expect from Martin Perez this year, but baseball folks rave about his somewhat newly added cutter. Could end up being one of the offseason’s best bargains. pic.twitter.com/goaSQnO6RR
— Jared Carrabis (@Jared_Carrabis) March 8, 2020
Of Perez’s five-pitch mix (four-seamer, cutter, changeup, curve, and sinker), his cutter had hitters batting nearly 60 points lower than Perez’s next most effective pitch.
Perez did use the pitch the most out of any of his five, but I am willing to bet that Chaim Bloom and co. have their eyes set on Perez throwing that pitch A LOT more. I highly doubt that the team wants him to continue to throw his four-seam fastball (.370 average, .740 slugging against) 18 percent of the time when he has this cutter in his arsenal.
I don’t know if this will add up to a successful first year in Boston for Perez. Baseball is baseball: random. Statistics are not the be-all-end-all. Nevertheless, seeing these figures gives me an idea of what Boston saw in the lefty when they went out and got him.
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-Jarrod Ribaudo (@Jribs53)