Gerry Fraley of the Dallas Morning News is reporting that left-hander Martin Perez will return to the Texas Rangers’ rotation Friday night against the Houston Astros. This will be Perez’ first start in 14 months since he had Tommy John surgery in May 2014.
Perez has made six rehabilitation starts with AAA Round Rock. During that time, he went 0-1 with a 4.56 earned run average in 25 2/3 innings.
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The Rangers have set up their rotation for the post-All Star break portion of the schedule with Perez pitching first because the bullpen will be fully rested after a four-day break. Being as Perez did not pitch more than six innings in any AAA start and only surpassed 80 pitches once, it is likely that Texas will have to rely on its bullpen to support Perez.
Much like the return of right-handed starter Matt Harrison who only threw 4+ innings and 77 pitches in his first start since 2014 following major back surgery, the Rangers are likely to be careful with Perez. If Perez can give the Rangers five innings in his first start, it would have to be considered a success.
The Rangers will start right-handers Colby Lewis and Yovani Gallardo in games two and three versus Houston. The logic being that the two veterans can be counted on to pitch deeper into the game thus keeping the bullpen’s workload down so that the pen is rested when Harrison and lefty Wandy Rodriguez take their turns in the rotation.
Perez had a stellar beginning to the 2014 season. He began 5-0 including two consecutive complete game shutouts against the Chicago White Sox and the Oakland Athletics.
His April 2014 ERA was a sparkling 2.95. However, after tossing three straight games of 8.0, 9.0 and 9.0 innings, his performance unexpectedly tailed off.
Perez failed to pitch more than 5 innings in any of his final three starts of 2014. In those games he gave up a total of 19 runs in 12.4 innings.
An MRI revealed that Perez would require season-ending elbow surgery and many questioned whether manager Ron Washington had been wise to allow the young pitcher to throw such a high number of innings so early in the season.
With No. 2 starter, Derek Holland on the disabled list until August, the injury to Perez was a deadly blow to the Rangers’ 2014 rotation. Now, the Rangers hope that the return of Perez and the eventual return of Holland who has pitched only one inning in 2015 due to shoulder soreness, will help pull the team back into the playoff race.
Texas currently sits 5.5 games behind the Houston Astros for the second wild card spot. The team’s recent slide, 2-8 in their last 10 games, has dropped them into 4th place in the American League West Division only 2 ½ games ahead of the Athletics who have the worst record in the American League.