Martin Perez had a breakout season in 2013 after not making his first big-league appearance until a spot start on Memorial Day that was followed by another month in the minors before coming up permanently in June.
He finished the year with an AL rookie-high 10 wins and a 3.62 ERA, making 20 starts and throwing 124 innings to earn himself a nice, yet team-friendly contract extension.
Now, the 22-year-old enters the 2014 season with a lot of pressure on his young shoulders with the uncertainty of Matt Harrison and the absence of Derek Holland from the Rangers' starting rotation, which has gone from team strength to question mark in a hurry.
Perez gave up a .294 batting average to opponents with two outs and runners in scoring position, which is something he told ESPN Dallas he wants to improve in 2014.
“I need to make my pitches and throw strikes,” Perez said. “I want to give my team a chance to win.”
Perez has always seemed to have a rare business-like approach for such a young player. He knows the expectations for him this year, but he said he doesn't feel pressure.
“I like when I’ve got a lot of expectations because I think everyone is looking to me and it means I’m doing better,” Perez told ESPN Dallas. “I don’t have pressure now. I have more experience and [I] just have to work hard and do my job.”