"Will The Real Oliver Perez Please Stand Up"
So, which Oliver Perez will the Nationals see tonight when the Pirates take on the Nationals at PNC Park. Last year, Perez had a break-out year, going 12-10 with a sparkling 2.98 ERA and 230 strikeouts. Most within the organization thought he "turned" that corner from thrower to pitcher. Things have changed this year, however.
Thus far, Perez is 5-5 with a whopping 6.22 ERA. What has changed in just one year? Well, he is on pace to give up 40 more hits, 35 more walks, and strikeout 50 less than last year. He is also giving up twice the number of home runs. He's just not as accurate as he was last year. His command is still there, however, so he's as apt to pitch a shutout and strikeout 15 as he is to give up 7 runs in the first inning. Perez is coming off his worst start of the year, giving up 6 runs in 6 innings against the New York Mets.
Perez is fearless in his approach to pitching -- nothing scares him. He has multiple arm angles, and at times looks like the Marlins Dontrelle Willis. He has a plus 90 fast ball and a slider that makes his fastball look 100+. A lefty, he can hold runners at first as good as anyone in the league. On the negative side, he's 'Tom Glavine' like in the first inning, where he hopes to contain the damage rather than get a 1-2-3 inning. Surprisingly, lefties hit him pretty well. Hear that Brad Wilkerson?
It will be interesting to see how Ryan Drese does tonight. In his second start with the Brewers, former National gave up 5 runs in 6 innings. We'll see if if Drese can continue his magic tonight in Pittsburgh.