Martin Perez never panned out as a top prospect with the Rangers. Perhaps what he needed was a new team and, more importantly, a new pitch.
Perez moved his record to 5-0 on Monday as he held the Blue Jays scoreless over seven innings in the Twins’ 8-0 victory. The left-hander surrendered just two singles and two walks while notching a career-high nine strikeouts.
The brilliant outing Monday comes after Perez spun eight shutout frames against the Astros his last time out. In five starts this season, the southpaw now boasts a 1.64 ERA, 0.97 WHIP and 25/7 K/BB ratio over 33 innings.
Perez entered this season with a career 4.63 ERA including a 5.26 mark in the previous two campaigns. So what’s been the key to Perez’s apparent breakthrough? Well, he’s throwing harder than ever with an average fastball velocity of just under 95 mph. Really, though, it’s been the addition of a cutter.
Perez has totally ditched his slider, a pitch that had been highly ineffective for him. In its place he’s introduced the cutter, which he had never thrown before but is now throwing about 35 percent of the time. Perez credits his agent, Felix Olivo, for the idea to throw the cutter and his teammate, Jake Odorizzi, for showing him the grip. It’s been a money pitch for him, and he plans to continue to utilize it heavily.
Perez has still been walking too many batters this season, although that hasn’t been the case in his starts. Also, while his 25 punchouts over 33 frames as a starter isn’t anything special, his highest two strikeout games have come in his last two outings.
The lefty is looking at least like an excellent streaming option in favorable matchups and perhaps more than that. He has the weak-hitting Tigers on the docket next.
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Ohtani on Tap
The Shohei Ohtani wait is over.
Ohtani will join the Angels in Detroit on Tuesday and be evaluated to determine whether he’s ready to be activated for the beginning of the team’s series versus the Halos. While that falls shy of guaranteeing he’ll be in Tuesday’s lineup, all indications are that it’s happening.
Ohtani, of course, is completing his rehab from Tommy John surgery, which he underwent last October. The 24-year-old won’t pitch again until 2020, but the Angels plan to use him as their regular designated hitter.
While he did not go out on a minor league rehab assignment, Ohtani had more than 50 plate appearances in simulated games at the team’s spring training complex. In other words, approximately what he would have received had he had a spring training.
While Ohtani’s pitching drew most of the buzz prior to his debut last season, he turned in a fantastic performance as a hitter, too. In 367 plate appearances, he posted a robust .285/.361/.564 batting line with 22 home runs, 61 RBI and 10 stolen bases. Among players with at least 350 plate appearances, he ranked ninth with a .925 OPS. Statcast also loved Ohtani, as he tied for 14th with a 92.6 mph average exit velocity and came in at eighth with a 9.8 percent barrel rate.
Nearly all of Ohtani’s damage came against righties, which he creamed for a 1.043 OPS and 20 of his 22 homers. However, while Ohtani posted just a .654 OPS and 31.8 percent strikeout rate versus lefties, manager Brad Ausmus has indicated that the slugger will not be platooned. That might eventually change if Ohtani’s struggles against southpaws continue, but initially it looks like he’ll be an everyday player who could wind up with 500ish plate appearances if all goes according to plan. Justin Bour and his .578 OPS are likely to spend more time on the bench.
Ohtani is currently still on the waiver wire in 40 percent of Yahoo leagues, so make sure to double-check that he hasn’t already been stashed.
Paddack Posting Zeros
Paddack went toe-to-toe with reigning National League Cy Young winner Jacob deGrom on Monday in San Diego and came away victorious, tossing 7 2/3 scoreless innings in the Padres’ 4-0 win. It’s was the longest outing of his young career and he notched a career-high 11 strikeouts. The Mets managed just four singles and one walk.
Paddack also got the better of fellow rookie Pete Alonso after saying over the weekend that he was “coming for him” following the first baseman being honored as the NL Rookie of the Month in April over the pitcher. Alonso struck out twice and grounded out once versus Paddack.
The stellar performance lowered Paddack’s ERA on the season to a microscopic 1.55. It’s the best ERA in the NL and trails only Tyler Glasnow (1.47) for the major league lead. Paddack’s 0.69 WHIP is easily the best mark in baseball.
Paddack’s most difficult opponent this season might be his workload. He’s currently on pace to throw 180 2/3 innings but almost surely will not come remotely close to that number. The 23-year-old missed 2017 following Tommy John surgery and threw 90 innings in 2018, which was a career high.
The 91 pitches Paddack threw Monday were a career high. He still looked like he was on cruise control when pulled with two outs in the eighth, but the Padres obviously don’t intend to push him.
While the team hasn’t revealed a specific innings limit for Paddack, they’re already being creative about how to handle his workload. The righty has made every one of his starts this season on five days of rest rather than the customary four days of rest. The Padres are currently going with a temporary six-man rotation and figure to do so at other times this season, too. Skipping Paddack’s turn on occasion is also an option.
There might come a time when selling Paddack makes sense for his fantasy owners. That’s probably not on May 7, though. For now, just enjoy him carving up the league.
National League Quick Hits: Nick Senzel slugged a pair of solo homers in the Reds' 12-4 rout of the Giants on Monday. … Max Scherzer held the Brewers to two runs -- one earned -- over six innings while fanning 10 in a no-decision Monday. … Miles Mikolas fired seven scoreless innings and struck out five in a win over the Phillies on Monday. … A.J. Pollock is on a six-week regimen of antibiotics to deal with the infection in his right elbow. … Steven Matz (forearm) will avoid the injured list for now but is not expected to make his scheduled start Wednesday. … Jacob deGrom struck out seven batters and allowed just two runs over seven innings in a loss to the Padres on Monday … Hunter Renfroe went 2-for-4 with a solo homer and a double in the Padres’ win over the Mets on Monday. … Anthony Rizzo went 2-for-4 with a two-run homer -- his 200th career round-tripper -- in the Cubs' loss to the Marlins on Monday. … Yadier Molina went 3-for-4 with a two-run homer in the Cardinals’ win over the Phillies on Monday. … Cody Bellinger (shoulder) singled and scored a run in five plate appearances in his return to the lineup Monday.
American League Quick Hits: David Price was placed on the injured list Monday with left elbow tendinitis but is hopeful of missing just 1-2 starts. … Blake Snell fanned nine in six scoreless innings Monday in a win over the Diamondbacks. … Jon Heyman of MLB Network has reported that the first doctor Carlos Rodon visited about his ailing left elbow recommended that the pitcher have Tommy John surgery … Tommy Pham went 2-for-4 and hit a grand slam Monday in the Rays’ rout of the Diamondbacks. … Austin Meadows (thumb) said after going through a full workout Monday that he's "shooting for" a return this weekend. … Jonathan Villar hit a grand slam Monday to give the Orioles all of their runs in a win over the Red Sox. … Carlos Correa went 3-for-4 with a solo homer in the Astros’ win over the Royals on Monday. … Jorge Polanco went 3-for-4 with a homer, a double and a walk against the Blue Jays on Monday. … Dee Gordon went 3-for-4 and homered against the Yankees on Monday. … Yoan Moncada had a two-run homer, an RBI double and a sac fly against the Indians on Monday. … Blake Treinen (elbow) is expected to avoid the injured list. … John Means pitched seven innings of one-run ball to beat the Red Sox on Monday. … Hunter Dozier went 2-for-4 with a two-run homer in the Royals’ loss to the Astros on Monday. … Brett Gardner homered and tripled as the Yankees topped the Mariners on Monday. … Ivan Nova fanned five and held the Indians to one run in seven innings on Monday. … Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle has reported that the Athletics are expected to designate Kendrys Morales for assignment, possibly as soon as Tuesday when Matt Olson (hand) returns.