Last night’s ninth inning implosion by Chris Perez was almost laughably predictable. So much so, in fact, that I chimed in to any within earshot at the bar that it was bound to happen as the team closed out the eighth inning with a 3-to-2 lead.
I just didn’t think it would happen in such spectacular fashion.
The setting: Cleveland, well positioned for the playoffs for the first time since 2007, owns a one game lead over the Texas Rangers for the second Wild Card spot. The club’s mercurial closer – and owner of a 6.11 ERA since August 5 – are three outs away from wrapping up another much needed victory. The bottom third of the Sox’s lineup is the only thing standing in the way.
Perez promptly serves up a moon-shot to left fielder Dayan Viciedo, who, by the way, has been about 5% below the league average offensively. The next two hitters, Gordon Beckham and Jordan Danks, go down swinging. And then, of course, Alejandro De Aza, another slightly below-average hitter this season, lifts the next Perez offering past the right-center wall for a potentially game-winning dinger. Until Jason Giambi’s at bat in the ninth inning.
I’ve caught a lot of the Indians games this season, a combination of not having much to do and, well, because they’re my team. And it seems like every time Perez takes the mound a tightrope walk ensues. Well, my hunch was correct.
Chris Perez has been one of the worst closers in baseball this season when it comes to making a “perfect appearance.” In other words: an outing where no hits or walks are issued. Below are the 28 relievers to accumulate 20+ saves, along with their subsequent number of outings and perfect appearances.
Perez has been so inefficient in terms of mowing down the side that the only reliever to do worse, Kevin Gregg, wasn’t even the Cubs’ closer on Opening Day and certainly won’t be in the same position come Opening Day 2014.
But let’s put that in perspective for a moment, the following are the totals for the Indians bullpen. (Note: Marc Rzepczynski’s totals include his time in St. Louis.)
So, yeah, Perez ranks second to last again, besting only equally replaceable reliever Matt Albers. Now to be fair Rich Hill and Marc Rzepczynski has been called upon an awful lot in platoon situations, but they do get the job down.
And, yes, I couldn’t write a Chris Perez post without mentioning for the umpteenth time that I wrote, “My only fear is that the team really punted on getting a maximum return for him this past offseason.” With the second highest ERA of his career, a negative wins above replacement value and a -0.32 WP/LI, Perez’s potential trade value has fallen nearly as much as his popularity in Cleveland. Oh. Yeah. He’s probably going to make something near $10 million next season, his final arbitration-controlled year.
Photo of Chris Perez Courtesy of Jim Rogash/Getty Images via SI.com.