Midseason Analysis: Oliver Perez
Looking at his peripheral numbers — i.e., a 1.16 WHIP, 3.14 ERA, 2:1 K:BB ratio — and considering the mighty Mets offense, it’s unbelievable his record is only 7-6. While John Maine has established himself as the Mets’ stopper, Oliver Perez is not far behind — and with a little luck would have nine or ten wins right now.
Ollie is light years from the 3-13 season of a year ago, and like Maine, feeds off of every successful start. Rick Peterson finally has a handle on keeping his mechanics consistent, successfully suppressing one of Oliver’s most volatile issues. While it’s true Perez still has starts where his timing and release point are all over the place, those days are rare rather than the rule — a complete turnaround from 2005-2006. By the tail end of last year, Perez was a guy most likely to be knocked out by the third inning, but have a 20% chance to throw an absolute gem. In 2007, he’s the exact opposite: a guy who throws a gem eight times out of ten — and on his “bad” days he can still manage to keep the team in the game for five innings.
In addition to his mechanics being in synch, two things are key to Oliver’s success: spotting his fastball vertically, and changing speeds. His slider is nearly always on, and one of the nastiest in baseball — though it will flatten out when he drops his arm angle too low. When he stays on top, can place his fastball both up and down, and mixes in both an average changeup and a slow slider, he’s nearly unhittable.
Add in his energy level and kidlike enthusiasm for the game, and you have a star in the making.
How good Ollie can be is dependent on how much confidence he builds. The talent is there, as is the fearlessness, and the willingness to be a workhorse. More than any other pitcher on the roster, Oliver Perez has the tools and mentality to pitch the first no-hitter in Mets history, and to be a genuine “seventh-game ace”. Assuming he stays on track with a repeatable delivery, the sky is the limit. A hot streak in September could propel him to postseason heroics well beyond what he showed in October 2006.