Has Ollie got his groove back?

Oliver Perez.  He’s been a great love/hate pitcher over most of his career. He has enticed and entertained with great strike out potential and scared and scarred with awful walk rates.  His career began in San Diego in 2002 and took him to Pittsburgh then the Mets and most recently to Seattle.  In 2004, with the Pirates, he had his best season:  12 wins, a 2.99 ERA and 1.15 WHIP.  And 239 strikeouts in 196 innings (11 K/9); the 81 walks were tolerable (3.7 per 9 IP).  2007, with the Mets, was also pretty good: 15 wins, 3.56 ERA, 1.31 WHIP and 174 Ks and 79 BBs in 177 innings (8.8 K/9, 4.0 BB/9).

But oh those other years…. He followed up the excellent 2004 year by giving up 6.1 BB/9 in 2005 and 5.4 in ’06.  After the decent 2007 season came 4.9 BB/9 in ’08, 7.9 in ’09 and then 8.2 BB/9 in 2010!  His WHIP in both 2009 and ’10 was right around a horrific 2.00.

Last year in the Mariners bullpen (no starts for the first time in his pro career) things settled down.  His K rate remained decent (7.3) and the walk rate was pretty acceptable (3.0) through 29.7 innings.  Perhaps the bullpen is the place to be for OP.

So far in 2013 Oliver Perez has thrown 16.7 innings, giving up 9 hits, 9 walks and 2 runs while striking out 23.  That’s good for a 1.08 ERA, 1.08 WHIP and 12.4 K/9, but also a 4.9 BB/9.

With a “small sample size” warning, over his last four appearances (4.3 IP) he has given up 1 run, 2 hits and 2 walks.  That’s a pretty nice 2.08 ERA and 0.92 WHIP.  The crazy thing is the Ks.  Of those 13 outs he’s most recently pitched, 11 have been by strikeout!  That’s the equivalent of striking out 23 batters in a 9 inning game (22.9 K/9 rate).  Walks, of course, remain a concern (8 in his last 10 IP), but keep an eye on Ollie.  For now, he’s in a groove.

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