After a dominant run through Cactus League play in spring training, it seemed Martin Perez was finally poised to make a big splash with the Texas Rangers, and possibly stay there all season. That was abruptly ended with a comeback line drive off the forearm, though, leading to Nick Tepesch getting the nod as the Rangers' fifth starter.
Perez, the 22-year-old lefty who's been the Rangers' top pitching prospect for years now, made his second big-league start of the season, and his first since late May, on Saturday night against the best team in baseball and one of its best pitchers in the Cardinals' Shelby Miller.
The Rangers got to Miller in the middle innings and Perez worked an efficient seven innings, needing less than 100 pitches to navigate through the Cardinals' big-hitting lineup, and the Venezuelan picked up his first victory of the season, improving to 1-1 after a 5-1 season in Triple-A Round Rock with a 1.75 ERA.
"I just had to do the same job I'm doing at Triple-A," Perez told the Associated Press. "The first two innings I missed a couple pitches but after that I just said, 'OK, this is my game.'"
You have to think Perez is now set in the Rangers' rotation for the foreseeable future as it seems he's finally gotten to the point where he can be a consistent starter in the bigs. Ace material? Probably not, but he could definitely prove to be a solid No. 3.
He impressed his manager, that's for certain.
"I've always seen the stuff, but tonight was the first time I think he showed he's a big-league pitcher," Ron Washington said. "It can be a huge step, he just beat a pretty good team.
"He should be proud. I know we are."