2013 stats: 5-3, 4.33 ERA, 87 ERA+, 1.43 WHIP, 25 saves, five blown saves, 54 strikeouts.
After being named to the American League All-Star team in 2011 and 2012, Chris Perez’s 2013 season with the Cleveland Indians was a never ending struggle for the right-handed closer. He posted career worsts in several key statistical categories, including game appearances (54), ERA (4.33), WHIP (1.43), blown saves (five) and total saves (25). Opponents also had an .847 OPS average against Perez, which was the highest he’s allowed in his career.
Perhaps contributing to Perez’s down year was his bout with tendinitis in his throwing shoulder. Perez blew a save against the Boston Red Sox on May 26 and was subsequently placed on the disabled list. His next appearance didn’t come until June 28. Though Perez blew three saves and suffered two losses upon returning from the disabled list, his best stretch in 2013 came in the month of July. During that time, Perez recorded eight saves and went 2-0 with a 0.66 ERA. July was the only month Perez appeared in more than two games without blowing a save.
After not being tendered a contract by the Indians, Perez signed a one-year, $2.3 million contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers in December. With incentives, the total value of the contract can reach $6-8 million. Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti stated Perez told manager Don Mattingly he was interested in joining the team under any capacity. Mattingly has called Perez’s number just twice this spring, first on Feb. 28 and again on March 4. Perez worked one inning in each game, recording three strikeouts and allowing zero hits.
2014 outlook: Despite his struggles last season, Perez presents an interesting set of possibilities heading into the 2014 season. The 28-year-old is one of three closers on the team, along with Kenley Jansen and Brian Wilson; he’s one of four if you include Brandon League. League’s troubles last season are well-documented and what to expect from him moving forward is largely unknown.
That opens the door for Perez, who conceivably could be the Dodgers’ primary right-hander in seventh inning situations and on occasion, perhaps in the eight inning as well if Brian Wilson needs to be preserved. 2014 will be Wilson’s first full season with an MLB team since having Tommy John surgery and if he’s to falter for whatever reason, his role as set-up man may be up for grabs between League and Perez.
Only signed to a one-year contract, Perez may evolve into a candidate to be traded if he’s able to show some signs of life. Ideally, League would be the pitcher who gets traded, but his contract would be much more difficult for the Dodgers to move.
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