Can we just talk about how good Oliver Perez has been for the Indians this season?
The Indians bullpen was in shambles earlier this season and, to some degree, it still is. The Tribe ranks 13th in the AL in ERA by a reliever (4.75) and the bullpen has surrendered the third-most home runs (69) despite pitching the fewest games (132) in the league and pitching 36.2 innings fewer than the next closest team, the Houston Astros.
It’s clear that Manager Terry Francona has not trusted his bullpen this season and sometimes it can come back to hurt the team. During the team’s July 10 matchup against the Reds, Tito brought in closer Cody Allen for the ninth inning despite Trevor Bauer pitching a shutout, although Bauer was well over the 100-pitch mark. The Reds then proceeded to plate seven runs, spoiling a gem of a start for a potential Cy Young Award candidate.
A few days later against the Yankees, Francona leaves Corey Kluber, also over the 100-pitch mark, in to begin the seventh inning with a lead, only for the Yankees to tie the game that inning.
Now, back to Perez.
Over 25 innings pitched with the Tribe this year, Perez holds just a 1.08 ERA, bringing some form of stability to a group that desperately needs it. More impressively, Perez has had 36 inherited runners (number of runners on base when pitcher enters the game) and only eight percent of them have scored.
Oliver Perez enters with no outs, runners on 1B/2B. He gets Gallo (P5F), DeShields (P3F) and Choo (K) in order to escape. Can't emphasize enough how critical the ageless lefty has been for the Tribe.
— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) July 21, 2018
Looking back on the August 29th game against the Twins, Perez entered with the tying run on third base with less than two outs. He then retired the next two batters, including a strikeout, to preserve the lead while earning his 11th hold of the season.
Although the team is only 19-21 in the 40 games Perez has appeared, Perez has by far been the best reliever in a group that includes an oft-injured Andrew Miller, a lackluster Dan Otero after his great 2017 season and Cody Allen, the team’s franchise leader in saves who holds a 4.53 ERA.
With the postseason coming along fast, let’s hope the rest of the bullpen can pick up the slack and follow the lead of Perez, affectionately nicknamed “O.P.”, because if this team is gonna beat the best of the AL like the Red Sox, Yankees and Astros, they’re going to need it…bad.