Martin Perez wasn’t on the radar for most Fantasy Baseball players going into the season. The Twins left-hander had an injury-plagued season in 2018 with the Rangers and didn’t have an ERA less than three since his rookie season in 2013.
After a good start to the season, many were still dismissing Perez as a fluke. The difference is a change in mechanics resulting in an increase in velocity and the addition of a cutter, which has made Perez one of the best waiver wire adds.
Perez continued his successful start Monday night with seven scoreless innings, allowing two hits, two walks and struck out a career-high nine in a win over the Blue Jays.
The Twins didn’t need a fifth starter with several days off in the first couple weeks of the season, and Perez didn’t make a start until April 15. Over his last three starts, he has a 0.43. He has a 1.64 ERA as a starter.
The first three starts were against the Blue Jays and the Orioles twice. While having success in those favorable matchups was a good sign, some were still slow to buy in for a pitcher that’s struggled throughout his career. In those three starts, he pitched 18 innings and allowed 19 hits and six earned runs with an 11:3 K:BB ratio.
Then he faced a big test against the Astros and dominated on May 1, throwing eight scoreless innings, allowing four hits, two walks and struck out seven. In 33 innings as a starter, Perez has a 1.64 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, 21.4 percent strikeout rate and 5.6 percent walk rate. He has been helped by a .258 BABIP and an 89.4 percent strand rate.
Either way, Perez is a different pitcher. The velocity on his fastball has increased 1.9 miles per hour to 94.6, and he’s throwing it less, electing to go with a cutter more, and he’s getting more swings and misses.
Perez conferred with Johan Santana about his changeup and learned the cutter from teammate Jake Odorizzi. Pitching coach Wes Johnson suggested a change with Perez’s hips that has helped the uptick in velocity as Perez has hit 97 miles per hour at times this season.
Perez was added in many leagues over the weekend for his two-start week, but there has been a lot of people thinking this is a fluke because of his 4.54 ERA. I was able to get him a competitive 15-team league over the weekend for $6 with a FAAB budget of $100. He could still be out there in more shallow formats and should be owned in all formats.
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