This is another installment in our series grading the individual performances of the key members of the 2019 Minnesota Twins. Each player will receive a classic grade on the scale of A through F, based on their hitting, fielding, and whatever else the author wants to consider. Check out our other installments below. Today, I’ll take a look at Martin Perez.
When nearing Spring Training, the Minnesota Twins pretty much had slots one through four figured out for their starting pitching rotation. However, the fifth spot was up for grabs, and there were quite a few candidates that could have won the job. At the end of January, the Twins signed Martín Pérez to a one-year, $4 million deal with a club option for 2020 at the price of $7.5 million or a $500,000 buy-out. It was an interesting signing considering his recent injuries and stats, and although many expected Perez to be in the bullpen, the front office insisted that he would be in the rotation.
The lefty did make the cut and indeed went north with the Twins out of Spring Training, albeit in the bullpen as the schedule only called for a four-man rotation for a couple weeks. Pérez was a delight to watch in the early goings of the season. He had added a cut fastball to his repertoire and it showed well in the first half of the year. In 18 games, starting 15 of them, the southpaw was able to post a 4.26 ERA in 95 innings, a WHIP of 1.368 and a K/9 of 8.1 and a K/BB ratio of 2.13. He looked to be a good, solid fifth starter in the rotation. Many praised Pérez, who in turn praised his agent and Jake Odorizzi for urging him to try out the cutter.
However, the second half was a different story. Pérez’s cutter became less effective and his cutter usage went down as the season went along, relying more on his change-up and fastball. His numbers post-All Star Break saw a sharp climb in his ERA, jumping up to 6.27 ERA in 14 starts and 70.1 innings of work. His K/9 and K/BB ratio also dropped to 6.4 and 1.30, respectively. The Twins went only 8-6 with Perez starting those games.
Oddly enough, Pérez faltered greatly against American League Central cellar-dwellers. He generated a 7.66 ERA against the Kansas City Royals in five starts and only 24.2 innings of work, allowing six homers and seven walks this season. The Detroit Tigers got 12 earned runs in 13.2 innings of seeing him, equaling a 7.90 ERA over three starts. His ERA against Cleveland and the Chicago White Sox were also north of 5.00.
As mentioned before, The Twins have a club option to take or leave on Pérez for the 2020 campaign. Given his decline over this season, the Minnesota front office might find it better to give Pérez the $500,000 than take the $7.5 million option. Unless Wes Johnson and the Twins can find a way to get Pérez to be a serviceable fifth starter again, he may be facing free agency for a second off-season in a row.
Overall Grade: C
What grade would you give Martín Pérez’s 2019 season?
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