By Christian Petrila
I’m ashamed to say that I was one of the people who worried about Chris Perez after the Opening Day mess. I was convinced that his oblique was still giving him problems and that a trip to the disabled list was all but a certainty.
I was as wrong as wrong can get.
Since Opening Day, Perez has been nothing short of masterful. Opening Day was a mess. #54 gave up the three runs to allow the Blue Jays to tie the score in only two-thirds of an inning. It was an outing that was ugly at best.
Perez has pitched in 14 games spanning 13 innings since then. In those 13 innings, he has allowed three runs.
Grasp that one for a second.
Three runs in 13 innings for a guy who gave up three in his first two-thirds. That type of consistency is remarkable for any closer, let alone one that underwent scrutiny like Perez did.
He has also recorded 11 straight saves since the opener. His ERA has dropped from 40.50 after Opening Day to 3.95 entering play Wednesday. Another jaw-dropping number is that opponents are hitting only .188 against him. He allowed three hits on Opening Day. He has only allowed six hits since then. His WHIP has also dropped to .55.
His fastball’s velocity is back up to the usual 94-95 MPH, and he has been able to place his slider effectively. He has kept hitters uncomfortable and frustrated. Just ask Alex Rios. After recording a save against the White Sox on May 3, Perez began shouting at Rios, who had recorded the final out. Rios took exception, yelling right back at Perez before being restrained by an umpire.
After Chris Perez blew the Opening Day save, fans were ready to give up on their closer. A month later, Perez and the critical fans have all made a full 180 degree turn. If the Indians hope to continue staying in first place, they’ll need Chris Perez to continue mowing down opponents.
Photo: Jason Miller/Getty Images