Pitches that will be key to Martín Pérez potentially bouncing back with the Pittsburgh Pirates

Can Martín Pérez bounce back in 2024?

Oct 28, 2023; Arlington, Texas, USA; Texas Rangers relief pitcher Martin Perez (54) comes in to
Oct 28, 2023; Arlington, Texas, USA; Texas Rangers relief pitcher Martin Perez (54) comes in to / Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
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Martín Pérez ability to put together a bounce back season with the Pittsburgh Pirates will likely hinge on the success of these three pitches

In early January, the Pittsburgh Pirates bolstered their starting rotation with the addition of veteran lefty Martín Pérez. The Bucs signed Pérez to a 1-year, $8 million deal. Even though he is coming off a poor season, Pérez will be relied upon to be an anchor in the Pirate starting rotation this season.

While Pérez has the potential to bolster the Pirate starting rotation, he also comes with plenty of red flags and concerns. The same can be said about fellow left-handed newcomer Marco Gonzales. These are two reasons why the Pirate starting rotation has many question marks entering the season.

During the 2022 season, Pérez was outstanding. In 32 starts for the Texas Rangers, he posted a 2.89 ERA and a 3.27 FIP in 196.1 innings pitched. While earning his lone career All-Star nod, Pérez had an 8.4% walk rate, 20.6% strikeout rate, and limited opposing batters to a .239 batting average.

A driving factor behind Pérez's success in 2022 was his sinker, cutter, and changeup, the three pitches that he uses most. Below, you can see how often Pérez used each pitch in 2022 and the results each pitch generated.

Pitch Type

Usage

Batting Average

Slugging Percentage

Whiff Rate

Sinker

35.2%

.249

.342

12.6%

Cutter

27.6%

.233

.338

35.5%

Changeup

24.3%

.228

.290

17.0%

The success of his top three pitches was a driving factor in Pérez being an American League All-Star in 2022. Last season, Pérez struggled mightily and was removed from the Ranger starting rotation in July.

Overall, Pérez pitched in 35 games last season, with 20 of them being starts. In 141.2 innings pitched, Pérez posted a 4.45 ERA, 4.99 FIP, 8.1% walk rate, and a 15.3% strikeout rate. His opponent batting average against spiked to .270, while his home run rate rose from 0.50 HR/9 in 2022 to 1.31 HR/9 in 2023.

Not coincidentally, Pérez struggles went hand in hand with his top three pitches being poor pitches last season.

Pitch Type

Usage

Batting Average

Slugging Percentage

Whiff Rate

Sinker

42.9%

.244

.394

9.7%

Cutter

26.5%

.316

.477

27.8%

Changeup

22.1%

.342

.640

11.7%

What type of success that Pérez does or does not have in 2024 will likely hinge on the success of his sinker, cutter, and changeup. If he can make the tweaks on the mound required to get the pitches back to their 2022 form, Pérez could have a successful bounce back season with the Pirates.

Pérez having a bounce back season will be vital for the 2024 Pirates. The Pirates will be relying heavily on Pérez rebounding in 2024 to help stabilize and boost their starting rotation. Odds are, if the Pirates surprise people and compete for the postseason in 2024 a bounce back season from Pérez will be a big reason why.

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