LHP Martin Perez.
ESPN's Dan Szymborski is a computer and stat guru, and we love getting a look at his projections. Here are his numbers for the 2014 Texas Rangers.
Position: No. 3 starter
Player: Martin Perez, LHP
Last year: 10-6 record, 3.62 ERA, 84 strikeouts, 37 walks, 124 1/3 innings pitched, 20 starts
2014 projections: 4.53 ERA, 106 strikeouts, 56 walks, 157 innings, 5.96 hits/9 innings, 6.08 K/9 innings
Martin Perez was phenomenal last year, finally living up to his billing as one of the game's top pitching prospects after a disappointing swim through the majors in 2012. He made on spot start on Memorial Day and was decent, but then came back up in late June for a start in St. Louis and shut down the Cardinals. After that, he never lost his starting spot and ended up tying for the rookie lead with 10 wins and finishing sixth in the AL Rookie of the Year voting.
So, what do we expect from guys in their second season? Well, usually there's some regression. Hitters have a book on Perez now and know more of what to expect, but at the same time, he has a better book on hitters and he's been working on developing a cut fastball to add to his arsenal. Szymborski's ERA projection for Perez seems a bit high, but it could be spot on for a guy who will turn 23 in the season's first week and have the pressure of picking up a lot of slack in the Rangers' rotation with injuries to Derek Holland and Matt Harrison.
A big part of pitching in the big leagues is mental approach and mental makeup, and Perez seems to have that in spades. You can tell when you listen to his postgame interviews from last season that the guy has it figured out from that perspective. With that said, you have to like Perez's chances of handling the added pressure that will be on his shoulders this year.