At just 22 years old, Martin Perez has been a Baseball America Top 100 prospect for each of the last five seasons. Perez made 20 starts last year, posting a 10-6 record with a 3.62 ERA. Perez’s rookie campaign was good enough for the southpaw to finish sixth in AL Rookie of the Year voting. Perez sits in the low 90′s with his fastball and gets most of his value from his change-up. On average, there is an 8 MPH difference and, according to FanGraphs, is his only “plus” pitch, or pitch that got him favorable results in 2013.
Perez also throws a curveball that sits in the mid-70s. Perez’s wrist changes a bit when he goes for the curve, slightly effecting his arm angle, and he doesn’t hide his curve very well, as his wrist gives a visible tell on his follow through as of game tape from 2013. The delivery of the change-up, like any good off speed pitch, has the potential to keep the Phillies guessing all night, particularly if he is able to locate his fastball. Perez’s delivery doesn’t particularly vary too much between pitches and his arm angle is usually a steady 65 degrees.
Tonight, Ryne Sandberg is playing a predominantly-righty line-up to counter Perez’s left-handedness. John Mayberry, Jayson Nix, and Cesar Hernandez in left, third, and second respectively round out tonight’s creative line-up with Chase Utley DH’ing. In a small sample (519 RH PA v. 187 LH PA), lefties have actually gotten on base at a higher clip (.339 v. .329) than righties but this may be because better lefties will stay in the line-up to compile the small sample.
The choice of Mayberry over Domonic Brown may seem like an odd one on paper, but Mayberry is still a career .276/.322/.530 hitter against lefties where Brown hits only .237/.293/.380 against them. He also dominates off-speed pitching. Nix’s .244/.320/.407 line against lefties is sort of questionable replacing a player with only 32 MLB plate appearances against lefties in Cody Asche but it may be worth a gamble, particularly since some of Nix’s success at the Major League level has been against off-speed pitching. Same goes with Hernandez replacing either Brown or Tony Gwynn Jr., who is a .233/.286/.288 hitter himself against lefties.
Will Sandberg’s platoon gamble pay off tonight? Prior successes, and failures, indicate that at worst, Sandberg is putting the Phillies in the best position to win. If they can lay off the offspeed stuff and focus on Perez’s fastball, they have an excellent shot at winning two in a row.