Coming off a disappointing 2013 season with the Cleveland Indians, Chris Perez was an off-season signing that was a minimal risk and high reward decision for the Los Angeles Dodgers; similar to the Brian Wilson signing last season.
Perez recorded 25 saves with the Indians in 2013, which was his lowest total since 2010. The right-hander dealt with tendinitis in his right elbow that may have contributed to his up and down year. The rough year resulted in the Indians deciding to not extend a contract offer to Perez, which allowed him to land with the Dodgers.
Like much of the Dodger bullpen, Perez has had solid outings and moments where he’s struggled. Perez didn’t allow an earned run in his first nine relief appearances of the season, but has since seen his ERA climb to 5.14.
Dating back to May 14, Perez allowed two earned runs in three consecutive outings, which may have led to change that will aid the reliever’s efforts in returning to All-Start form. According to Michael Lananna and Lyle Spencer and of MLB.com, Perez is now throwing from the third-base side of the pitching rubber:
The Dodgers right-hander shifted from the first-base side to the third-base side three outings ago at the suggestion of his coaching staff.
Perez believes the change has allowed for his pitches to be more effective:
It changes the angles and looks the hitters get, especially the righties,” Perez said. “I’m kind of throwing behind them now instead of coming into them. It just makes my pitches play different.”
As one of three relievers who have previously served as full-time closers, Perez has been used in a variety of ways this season and values the work he’s been tasked with. So long as Brian Wilson continues work on recapturing last year’s form and with Chris Withrow likely needing Tommy John surgery, Perez’s importance to the backend of the bullpen has increased.
If Perez’s shift to the third-base side of the rubber correlates with better results, the Dodgers may once again have a pair of dependable right-handers at their disposal for the eighth and ninth innings.
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