The Toronto Blue Jays are one loss away from being eliminated from the 2015 ALDS. Once thought to be the favorite in the AL, they are hanging on for their lives. And, they’ll put their fate in the hands of Marco Estrada in Game 3. Opposing them is a young pitcher who has had an up and down season in 2015. He just might present the chance the Blue Jays need to stay alive in this series. But, they’re going to have to adjust their game plan to be successful.
Toronto Blue Jays
The 24 year old lefty underwent Tommy John Surgery in 2014 and didn’t make his first start in 2015 until mid-July. Since then, he’s gone 3-6, 4.46. in 14 starts, he’s totaled 78.2 IP for an average of about 5.2 innings per start. His best outing came on August 2 against the San Francisco Giants where he went 8.1 innings and gave up just one earned run on 6 strike outs. His worst outing came against the Yankees in the start before that. He went just one inning and gave up 8 earned runs.
According to Fangraphs.com, his last 5 starts have seen him go 5, 7, 4, 6, and 7 innings. Over those 5 starts, he’s been up and down giving up 5 runs one start and 1 the next, walking 3 one start and none the next. It’s led to a K/9 rate of 5.49 and a BB/9 rate of 2.75. One thing that has been consistent is his ability to limit the home run ball. He’s only allowed 0.34 HR/9. That is going to be a problem for the Blue Jays if they are going to continue to look for that big fly ball to put their runs on the board.
The Blue Jays should look to get men on base by making contact. Perez has a ground ball rate of 59.9%. Hitters have managed to make medium contact 59.1% of the time and pull the ball 43.2%. This tells us that contact is there to be made. He’s given up 88 hits in his 14 starts. That’s over 6 per start or over a hit per inning. The Blue Jays should take what he gives them and play to manufacture runs against Perez. The big flies may not come, but he can be beat by making contact.
Perez features the typical fastball (4 seam: 92mph and 2 seam: 91.5mph), slider (85.7 mph), curveball (77.7 mph), and change (83.9 mph). He uses his two seamer most at 35.7% and then his 4 seamer and his change up both get used at 21% of the time. That leaves his slider and curveball in the back of hitters’ minds. It has been his slider that has been worth the most for him at 1.1 runs above average. All of his other offerings are at or below average.
Perez won’t fool many hitters. He’s sitting at a swinging strike rate of 7.5%. He’s only in the strike zone 41.1% of the time. And, when he does come in the strike zone, he’s been hit at a rate of 89.6%. This is encouraging for the Blue Jays.
Perez is hittable. This is good news for Blue Jays fans who want to see more baseball played by their club. The Blue Jays’ hitters need to make contact and string together some hits. They will need to manufacture runs better than they have in the first two games of this series. Perez may not surrender the home runs, so creating runs is going to have to be the focus here. This lineup is built on run production, but cannot rely on hitting bombs to do it. If they happen, they happen. But, if they sit back and wait for them, they very well could be sitting back and watching the Ranger advance to the ALCS.