Talk about coming to the rescue.
Based on past performances by the still-very-young Martin Perez, it was hard to imagine what the Texas Rangers could expect when he was recalled last month when Alexi Ogando hit the disabled list.
Perez was the favorite to win the No. 5 starter's job out of spring training — the job Nick Tepesch eventually won after Perez was injured in Cactus League play and missed a month with a broken forearm after he took a line drive off the arm.
After he finally got healthy, he made a spot start in Arizona and took a loss in a so-so start before going back to Triple-A Round Rock to hone his skills. Boy, has he done that.
Since being recalled last month, Perez has been one of the team's best pitchers — possibly the best. He made his fourth start since his recall on Tuesday night and turned in another quality start, giving up four runs (only two earned) in six-plus innings.
He walked the first batter he faced in the seventh inning, a crummy end to a quality outing, but before that Perez was a fighter and got out of jams and pitched efficiently to give the bullpen another relatively light night of work after Derek Holland went into the eighth inning on Monday night.
“He has ability, and since he’s come back up here, he’s certainly showing that,” Rangers manager Ron Washington told reporters after the game. “He did an outstanding job tonight. He had poise.”
The Rangers committed three errors — just their second three-error game of the year, the previous one resulting in a loss — which could have easily rattled a young pitcher, but Perez didn't fall victim to those jitters and just kept competing.
Now, in his four starts since being recalled, Perez is 3-0 with a 1.44 ERA, 14 strikeouts and just five walks in 25 innings — better than six per start.
One thing is now for certain, no matter who returns from the DL, whether it be Ogando, Colby Lewis or even Matt Harrison, it seems Perez is going to be tough to kick from the rotation. In a perfect world, Lewis and Harrison will both come back, guns a'blazin, which is highly unlikely, and the Rangers can add Ogando back to an already stout, yet tasked, bullpen.