Indians

Pitcher Preview: the Cleveland Indians versus Martin Perez

Dan Mendlik

The purpose of this article is an intellectual exercise in prediction. I will be pointing to a few key matchups for Perez in the Indians lineup which are advantageous for the Indians. Following the game I will review how these matchups influenced the outcome of Tuesday night’s game.

The Indians enter Game 2 of 162 off a thrilling win and numerous positive indicators from Opening Day. Of course, momentum in baseball is only so persuasive as the next days starting pitcher, but thankfully for the Indians, their opponent is Martin Perez.

Perez is a heavy ground ball starting pitcher who does not induce any significant swing and miss. Unsurprisingly, he throws a two-seamer/sinker, changeup and slider. This preview will focus on those three pitches.

Courtesy of Brooks Baseball

The sinker is Perez’ highest usage pitch by a significant margin. The sinker sits around 93 miles per hour but will frequently ride from 91 to 95 miles per hour. The pitch is heavy inducing roughly 64% ground balls for his career. Perez makes his living with his sinker on the lower-outside quadrant to right handed hitters.

Courtesy of Brooks Baseball

Are there any Indians with success against this sinker zone? Of course.

Edwin Encarnacion eats the sinker on the outside half. He also destroys any slider that is not buried in on his hands, so this is a prime matchup for Edwin.

Brooks Baseball

Guyer, destroyer of all things left-handed also crushes sinkers on the outer half and is prepared to take Perez for a ride.

Courtesy of Brooks Baseball

Perez relies on pitching to the edges and controlling the plate inside and away. Mostly, changing the eye line of hitters.  Perez uses the slider in off the plate to right handed hitters in order to keep them from cheating outside on that sinker too often. The slider has been an above average pitch inducing a wRC+ of 78.

Brooks Baseball

Perez’ location on the slider to the inside is important to his success. The pitch can only balance his arsenal if it is consistently buried down and in. If it is not, Guyer, Encarnacion, Santana or even Austin Jackson could punish it.

Courtesy of Brooks Baseball

Finally Perez uses an average to slightly above average changeup to induce soft contact outside the zone away.

Courtesy of Brooks Baseball

Nobody on the Indians roster has had much success against the changeup in this location which means their duty is just laying off of it. This should be a simple task as Santana, Encarnacion, Lindor, Ramirez, and Diaz are skilled at avoiding chase in this situation. The Indians will get plenty of sinkers with a lot of plate, spitting on the changeup and punishing the sinker/slider usage will be the path to victory for the Indians. Encarnacion, Diaz, and Guyer all look ripe to produce big nights against the southpaw Perez.

  • mgbode

    My only complaint is for Brooks Baseball. It drives me nuts that they picked black (just w/ slightly different shaped dots) for both the 2s and 4s pitches. Would it have killed them to pick another color?

  • mgbode

    Hattery’s work here is excellent as always. Look forward to seeing how this plays out.

  • jpftribe

    This is really great stuff. Makes the game that much more interesting when you have insight into how they might approach a guy.

    Interested in watching Cookie and the pitch selection tonight. He didn’t throw much breaking stuff in AZ and got clobbered.

  • Steve

    I’m interested in seeing where Guyer fits into the lineup vs LHP. He’s somewhere between the second and fourth best hitter we have against LHP. I would be a fan of platooning him with Brantley in the #3 spot and getting that OBP in front of Encarnacion.

  • mgbode

    I’m a bit worried with the match up tonight. There is said to be 15mph winds blowing out, which we all know from my cold weather article last year affects HR balls much more than air density.

    Cookie has had struggles in the past giving up too many HRs. Perez, as Hattery notes well, keeps the ball on the ground much better.

  • mgbode

    I would not be opposed to it, but I doubt we see Guyer higher than 5th and he’s probably in the 6-slot tonight.

  • Steve

    Absolutely.

    That .391 career OBP vs LHP though. It makes my heart skip a beat.

  • Steve

    And sixth it is. At least Jackson is last. I was worried about a Davis like situation at the leadoff spot.

  • jpftribe

    So when Kip is back, do you slide Brantley to 6?

  • mgbode

    Brantley’s shoulder should be more healed by now than Kipnis, right?

  • mgbode

    Yep, Tito refused to crack his “essential 5” guys as expected. A-Jax doesn’t have the enticing wheels of Rajai anymore 😉

  • Steve

    My shot in the dark is Kipnis is a fairly permanently fixture at five, with Ramirez at six.

  • mgbode

    Let’s just all hope that Kipnis comes back (and healthy) so we can discuss this further.

  • jpftribe

    I was afraid you would say that. It’s like Ramirez was born to hit behind EE at 5 in this line up. I’d like to see them play it more conservative with Brantley, take the pressure off him and let him Smooth his way up.

  • Mike Hattery

    Thanks gentlemen. Really fun when I have the time to throw these together.

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