Rangers What-Ifs: Martin Perez

With the season a couple of months away, what has to break right for the Rangers to contend again in 2015?

What if Martin Perez can have a solid recovery from Tommy John surgery and get back in the Rangers' rotation sometime around midseason? What if he pitch the way he was in the weeks leading up to his arm trouble early in 2014? What if the Rangers are in contention when he gets back and provides a big boost to the rotation?

After the way his 2014 season started with such promise and ended with such disappointment, it'd he a welcomed development.

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Perez's third, fourth and fifth starts of the 2014 season were all things of beauty and gave Rangers fans hope for a young starting pitcher that they hadn't had in recent memory. In those starts, respectively, he tossed eight shutout innings and then proceeded to fire back-to-back complete-game shutouts, including one in Oakland over the Rangers' arch nemesis. That took his ERA to a 1.42 mark.

Then, the wheels fell off, and Perez made three more starts in which he allowed a total of 19 earned runs and only got through the fifth inning once. Then, Perez was put on the disabled list and shortly thereafter was under the knife for elbow reconstruction. Talk about a buzz kill.

The general thought on Tommy John is pitchers can return after a year, which would mean Perez could be ready to go by July after a proper rehab assignment. It's also a general rule of thumb that Perez would likely not return to full strength and ability until the 2016 season. But Perez's age (23) is reason for hope that maybe he can recover fully sooner rather than later. And if he does that, he could provide an unbelievable boost to the Rangers' rotation.

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