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Mets' Perez walks 7, wins anyway

Perez Last night after the Mets escaped with a win, I hung around for the postgame analysis, and my ears perked up when the discussion turned to Oliver Perez, making his first start for the big club since early May. Perez gave up two runs in five innings to earn the victory. He also walked seven Dodgers. Bob Ojeda's take on Perez:

    When it looked like he was going to implode, he just held it together...
    Does he make mistakes out over it? Absolutely. But when he makes those mistakes, they swing at 'em...

    He's inviting swings. The reason he gives up so many walks is because they tend to take him a lot. They take him a lot because of his history. But tonight, by working that inside part of the plate, he was able to get more swings at vital times, when he needed it.

    --snip--

    ... His timing of his delivery was much more consistent than before he left. So was there some progress? Absolutely ... Did he still walk seven? Sure he did. But that's part of the mindset of the offense. The offense goes up there, let's wait him out. He doesn't get borderline swings that a control pitcher might get.

Can we not sugarcoat this thing? Perez's start last night was just short of a disaster.
When Perez got sent down -- or DL'd, or whatever -- in April, it was because he'd walked 21 batters in 22 innings. During his rehab (or whatever) stint, he embarrassed some Class A hitters, and also started twice against Triple-A teams ... and against those more experienced hitters, he issued nine walks in nine innings.

Wednesday night, he issued seven walks in five innings.

Just to sum up: This season, Perez has thrown 36 innings above the Double-A level. In those 36 innings, he has walked 37 batters. I'm all for giving a guy with a solid history a bit of rope, but it always strikes me as odd when a player fails miserably, is exiled to correct a particular flaw, doesn't correct the flaw ... and is un-exiled anyway.

I know the Mets are desperate. They're flailing in the standings, they've got one starter who's been better than average, and of course they've got that huge payroll that includes Oliver Perez's $12 million salary. You can almost, almost understand why the Mets have tossed him back into the rotation. And for one night at least, it "worked."

But while the Mets might feel like they didn't have much of a choice, the rest of us do. In his five innings last night, Perez threw 55 strikes and 53 balls. If he keeps doing that, the batters are going to continue to "take him a lot" and he won't get those "borderline swings." And he'll lose. His performance last night was not something to celebrate. His performance last night was a big red sign with flashing lights and blaring Klaxons.