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.
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.
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.
Guyer, destroyer of all things left-handed also crushes sinkers on the outer half and is prepared to take Perez for a ride.
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.
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.
Finally Perez uses an average to slightly above average changeup to induce soft contact outside the zone away.
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.