When the Arizona Diamondbacks acquired reliever Oliver Perez in early March, it was a head scratcher for some, but I knew he would be valuable in the Dbacks pen, and he has been exactly that.
Perez earned 1.75 million in the first year of his two year deal, and he will earn 2.5 million this upcoming season. This was a bargain for the Dbacks, given the production they got from him.
The 32 year old left-hander revitalized his career as a reliever for the Mariners in 2011, and 2012. He continued that success in 2014 for the Snakes posting a 2.91 era, a 3.23 FIP, and a 3.16 xFIP in 58.2 innings pitched over 68 appearances. He had great control in 2014, posting a 11.66 K/9 and a 3.88 BB/9.
Perez pitched out of the back end of the Arizona pen, and there is a reason for it. For me late inning relievers have to be good with men on base, with runners in scoring position, and in high-leverage situations. Perez was exceptional in all three situations.
High leverage situations decide the game. They have the most pressure involved, and a team’s best relievers should be on the mound. One example is the bases loaded in the 9th with two outs, and a tie game.
Perez excelled in those situations in 2014. According to FanGraphs, opposing batters hit just .189 against Perez in high leverage moments, with a .262 wOBA, a 2.04 FIP, a 2.83 xFIP, and a K/BB ratio of 6.00.
Meanwhile, with men on base opposing hitters hit just .193 with a .273 wOBA in 31.0 innings. With runners in scoring position opposing hitters hit just .229 with a wOBA of .285 in 17.2 innings.
As good as his 2014 season was, Perez figures to be even more important in 2015, and it’s a direct result of the flurry of N.L. West activity this hot stove season, practically what the Padres did.
The Padres completely remade their outfield under G.M. A.J. Preller, acquiring Justin Upton from the Braves, Matt Kemp from the Dodgers, and Will Myers from the Rays.
All three have something in common: great power from the right side. Divisional games are so important, and if the Dbacks want to beat San Diego, then there going to have to contain the home run power of Kemp, Myers, and Upton.
There is a reason why the Giants recently resigned Sergio Romo. Last season right-handed batters hit just .170 against him.
Perez is a perfect pitcher to combat the Friars new big three. Last season, right-handed batters hit just .180 against Ollie. Even more important, Perez only gave up five home runs all season, and only 2 of them were hit by a righty.
Look for Perez to get more innings in 2014, as right-handed power continues to increase in the N.L. West.