The Martin Perez maturation continued on Sunday right in front of everyone's eyes.
The 22-year-old lefty, who was supposed to be the Texas Rangers' No. 5 starter coming out of spring training but instead spent more than a month on the shelf after suffering a broken arm in a Cactus League game, is turning into quite the reliable starter down the stretch.
In his last 10 starts, he's pitched at least into the sixth inning nine of those times. In his last three starts, he's pitched at least into the seventh and has given up just four runs and 12 hits.
On Sunday, he went the distance, tossing a complete game four-hitter and fanned a career-high eight hitters in a 6-1 win over the Houston Astros.
"When you trust what you have, you can do whatever you want," Perez told ESPNDallas.com. "Trust yourself and be strong in your mind."
Doesn't sound like a 22-year-old rookie, does it? That's one thing that makes Perez so impressive, he just seems to "get it," and it's evident from his on-field demeanor to what he says in his postgame interviews after his starts.
On the season now, comprised of 11 starts, Perez is 5-3 with a 3.44 ERA. He had a three-start stretch last month against Detroit, Baltimore and Cleveland where he struggled, giving up 15 runs. If you go back to his permanent promotion in June, after one spot start on Memorial Day, and throw out that one bad stretch, Perez has put up numbers that are great for a No. 4 starter, even becoming of a No. 3.
Throw out those three starts, and Perez has two stretches of 3-0 with a 1.44 ERA and 2-0 with a 1.59 ERA in a four-start and three-start stretch, respectively.
Heading forward, there's no question that Perez has moved ahead of Alexi Ogando in the pecking order of the Rangers' rotation. If the Rangers play in a best-of-seven series in the playoffs, Perez will be their No. 4 starter with the likelihood of Matt Harrison returning low and Colby Lewis out for the season. Perez's maturation and continued strangle-hold on that role will allow the Rangers to move Ogando back to the bullpen, which is where he best fits, anyway.
This successful surge couldn't be coming at a better time for Perez, or for the Rangers.