The Dodgers are on the verge of finalizing a one-year deal with right handed reliever Chris Perez. The 28-year-old reliever was formerly with the Indians. The Tribe decided to release him in October of this year instead of paying him the nine million dollars he was due to earn through arbitration. Many Dodger fans will wonder why? Our new writer Adrian has Already gave a very good analysis on Perez, you can check out here. But I would like to throw in my two cents.
If you are wondering why the Dodgers are even interested in Perez, the quick answer is, he’s replacing Ronald Belisario’s vacant spot in the bullpen. But is he really any better than Belisario? Should the Dodgers have just retained Belisario instead, and saved the cash? It certainly appears it would have been the cheaper alternative.
Perez has six years of major league service under his belt, while Belisario has four. The two are different types of pitchers. Belisario is a sinker/cutter guy who induces grounders, while Perez is a fastball/strikeout guy who can clock upwards of 98 MPH on the radar gun.
Who’s the more effective pitcher is the question. For that let us do a comparison. First of all let us compare their earned run averages. To tell you the truth, Belisario’s ERA is slightly lower than Perez’s. Perez has a career ERA of 3.41. His lowest mark was 1.71 in 2010, and his highest was 4.33 last season. His FIP is at a career total of 4.11. There appears to be about a half run difference in his ERA and his FIP.
As for Belisario, his ERA is at a career level of 3.29, while his FIP stands at 3.60. That’s in about 265 innings of work. Perez has pitched more innings with 333.
ERA/FIP goes to Belisario
What about their walk rates? I don’t follow the Indians, but you don’t have to be a Tribe fan to know that Perez has struggled with his control over the years, especially last season. Perez has issued 140 walks, and posted a career 3.8 walk per nine rate. His lowest mark was a 2.5 in 2012, and he averages about 25 walks per season. Belisario has had his control problems at various times throughout his career as well, but not as bad as Perez has had it. Still, the numbers are close and almost match up. Belisario has issued 105 walks, and has a career 3.6 walk per nine rate. His lowest mark was a 3.1 in 2010. Both pitchers can be wild when they lose their command.
BB/9-Edge goes to Belisario, but slightly
Perez comes in as a big strikeout guy though, and we know that has value in the late innings. So does Belisario’s ability to induce ground balls. Perez has whiffed 323 batters and posted a career average of 8.7 whiffs per nine. Perez’s strikeout rates have been as high as 10.7 in 2009. Belisario has whiffed 220 while posting a whiff per nine rate of 7.5. Perez is definitely the bigger whiff guy.
But Belisario induces the ground balls. Case in point, Belisario posted a 61.4% grounder rate last season, and has a 60.8% career rate. Perez on the other hand kills worms at a rate of 36.4%. That’s a huge difference.
Ground ball rates-edge to Belisario
What about stranding inherited runners? Perez may put a lot of runners on base, but he leaves them there with an LOB% of 77.9. Belisario’s LOB% is slightly less at 73.6.
Stranding inherited runners-Slight edge to Perez
So who’s the better pitcher? It’s a tough one to call. Perez struggled last year with command and home run problems. He gave up 11 long balls last season, and has allowed 39 while Belisario has served up just 16 total. Obviously Belisario’s sinker/cutter ball does the job of keeping balls in the park.
Home runs allowed-Belisario
For me both pitchers have their advantages and disadvantages, but seem to be equal in strength. Both have had struggles in the past with drugs, and inconsistencies. While Perez may have had a poor season in 2013, it doesn’t mean he’s going to have a poor 2014. Players can have bad seasons, and Perez was always a pretty good closer in Cleveland over the last few years. I don’t want to quote saves, but Perez has saved 132 games, averaging 26 each season.
Again to me, both seem fairly equal in effectiveness but just are different types of pitchers, so the true deal breaker may come down to cost. Belisario only cost the Dodgers 1.45 million dollars last season, and will earn 3 million dollars with the White Sox in 2014. Perez on the other hand made 7.3 million dollars last season and would have been eligible for a hefty raise had the Tribe not released him.
Cost- Belisario is the more cost effective pitcher
If the true difference is just the cost, then I think the Dodgers should have stuck with Belisario. However what’s done is done, and Perez could be a pretty good seventh or eighth inning guy with his strikeout stuff. Is he that much better than Belisario? The numbers say no, but this could still turn out to be a pretty decent pick-up depending on the cost. Perez has a blazing fastball, and I think the Dodgers are hoping a little change of scenery might help. Let’s wait and see what the financial terms of the contract are before we all start bashing Ned Colletti for signing another unreliable reliever for big dollars.