LHP Martin Perez.
It's fair to say there isn't a rookie starting pitcher in baseball better than Martin Perez.
Sure, the Texas Rangers' 22-year-old lefty leads all rookies with nine wins after having just one start before June 21, when he beat the Cardinals after being recalled and staying in the rotation since. And yes, wins are an overrated stat for starting pitchers.
But, the way Perez has gone about himself since being planted firmly in the Rangers' rotation is what stands out, as he's shown a tendency to, even when he doesn't have his best stuff, fight through it and get out of big trouble. When he gives up a run, he settles down and bounces back.
Tuesday night, he gave up an early run in the first inning, and then nothing else as he finished his night going seven innings, allowing eight hits and striking out five with his devastating changeup. It was a masterpiece, especially when you consider Perez is 22 years old and the A's owned the young lefty last season as he made some starts for the Rangers down the stretch and watched his team's lead in the West collapse in the final weeks of the season.
The best thing about Perez is how he handles himself on the mound, and after the game in postgame interviews. He's all business. In a way, he's very Cliff Lee-esque, and believe me, when you're 22, that's not only rare but it's a great thing to see.
Perez might be labeled as this team's No. 4 starter. He was the No. 5 before Alexi Ogando hit the DL for the third time this season. But it's fair to say that over the last month-and-a-half, he's been the best starting pitcher the Rangers have thrown out there.
In fact, Perez has now put up a 2.54 ERA over his last seven starts and won his sixth straight start to improve to 9-3. Take this into account: Over that stretch, Perez has faced Felix Hernandez twice, Chris Sale and Bartolo Colon in his last four starts — all victories.
That, friends, is what aces are made of. And again, he's 22 years old.