(Photo: Jay Biggerstaff, USA TODAY Sports)
2020 season age: 38 – Throws: Left – Bats: Left – Contract: $3 million
2019 in review: Perez’s vesting options for appearances in 2019 kicked in to guarantee his 2020 contract with the Indians, pitching 40.2 IP in 67 appearances with a 3.98 ERA and a 3.56 FIP. He struck out 48 and walked 12 batters.
Beyond the stats: There were some concerning signs for Perez in 2019, with his strikeout rate and walk rate going in the wrong directions. However, beyond the surface of that, he held hitters to the same average exit velocity (86.1) in 2018 and 2019 and the average launch angle against him went down to 9.8. However, the hard hit rate against him went up 7%. It’s kind of a mixed back on how you can expect a 38 year old left handed matchup specialist to age.
On the mound: Perez works with a fastball, sinker and slider. Because he worked against lefties in most of his outings, he heavily leaned on the slider and it was by far his most effective offering. He threw the fastball more to right handers, which went about as horribly as you should expect – .505 wOBA.
2020 role: With the new three-batter minimum rule, Perez and the Indians enter new territory with his role and what he can produce. He’s very clearly a lefty specialist (.264 wOBA against lefties, .358 against righties.) He really isn’t equipped to face right handers these days, and if he’s going to survive all of 2020, he certainly cannot throw his fastball as much as he did to right handers last year. Terry Francona will be creative in his uses, bringing Perez in with two outs in an inning when a left hander is up, so there’s a good chance Perez is going to pitch even less than he did previously. He did mention some different preparation to face right handers, so we’ll see what that looks like, but his role is going to be a little different or reduced in 2020.
Fantasy impact: Perez has been a good soldier in the Indians bullpen, providing some desperately needed stability in 2018 and has been a good matchup lefty for a while now. With or without the new three batter minimum rule, there’s no reason to draft Perez in any fantasy format.