People have said, “Wow, I can’t believe Óliver Pérez is still pitching,” for what has felt like every year for the past decade.
But, finally, sadly — for now — he’s not.
Pérez, who’s put up a 2.57 ERA (!) since joining The Cleveland Baseball team in 2018, has been designated for assignment by the club to make room for reliever Nick Wittgren, who, umm, does not have a career 2.57 ERA with Cleveland. Pérez, who turns 40 years old in August, threw three and two-thirds scoreless innings with Cleveland this year and posted a 2.00 ERA through 18 innings in the abbreviated 2020 campaign.
“I was just having a tough time figuring out how to use him,” Cleveland manager Terry Francona said, per MLB.com. “I mean, for the most part, he was kind of pitching when we were in games that were spread out. That doesn’t necessarily fit the role you want for, kind of, a lefty specialist. I told him last night; I said, ‘Man, I haven’t figured it out.’ When you look at teams coming up, Chicago, Kansas City, we’re not seeing opportunities where we can leverage him as we hoped.”
We’re not going to just let this end, are we?! We go to war over this, right? Perez’s has been one of the most improbable comebacks we’ve seen since the return of cocaine [#CrackIsBack].
Because baseball is a game of [too much?] strategy, the grey-haired reliever reinvented himself from a failed starter to a successful lefty-specialist, extending his career many years following what expectations were once upon a time. He was a New York Met, which is already a loaded observation. And, he was one of those Mets — the guys who seemed promising early on until the wheels came entirely off toward the end. (Oh, hold on, Yoenis Céspedes is calling from his ranch.)
After spending 2011 in the minors, Pérez posted a 3.16 ERA in two seasons with the Seattle Mariners, and has since bounced around before his recent long-term stay in Cleveland. Though he has a career 4.34 ERA, the 19-year pro actually has a 3.42 ERA and 419 strikeouts through 350 innings in his second act as a reliever.
Because of the new three-batter rule introduced ahead of the 2020 season, lefty specialists who come in to face one lefty hitter and leave the game aren’t a thing we’ll see anymore — and thank God. That one-hitter shit was getting annoying to watch, mainly when the broadcast remained on the new pitcher jogging in from the bullpen alllllllll the way to the infield before transitioning to that damn Kars 4 Kids commercial.
Let’s not act like these lefty pitchers can’t get a righty or two out here and there, which was forced to happen last season.
Given his recent production, and just for the story alone, someone should sign Pérez. Let’s just keep this shit going. And, according to Jon Morosi of MLB Network, we might even see him in the Olympics! [Assuming they even happen, but I want the movie rights if he wins gold.]