Chris Perez Set To Join The Los Angeles Dodgers
It appears former Cleveland Indians closer Chris Perez is about to find a new home. Many reports are surfacing of the former closer joining the Los Angeles Dodgers on a 1 year deal. Official terms or monetary figures have not be finalized yet, but it is appearing likely Perez will join LA.
Chris Perez enjoyed a roller coaster ride of a tenure with the Indians which saw him make 2 all-star appearances, but never won over the hearts of the Tribe faithful due to many rocky and blown opportunites. Perez’s all-star seasons were in 2011 when he saved 36/40 games, and 2012 where he saved 39/43 games. Although these save totals may seem impressive, his ERA suggests a lot of the saves did not come easy for him. In 2011 Perez had an ERA of 3.32, a high ERA for any closer. His FIP was 4.27, an xFIP of 5.01, and SIERA (skill interactive ERA) of 4.65. These advanced stats show that while Perez only blew 4 games, he was actually a lot worse than his ERA showed and was extremely shaky. In 2012, Perez had his best season as closer as evidenced by his 3.59 ERA, 3.34 FIP, 3.67 xFIP, and 3.04 SIERA. While all of these numbers are not ideal for a closer, Perez was still able to get the job done.
This past season was an entirely different story for Perez as manager Terry Francona’s was constantly questioned for keeping Perez as the full time closer during his struggles and his injuries which derailed him. He also had an incident where he was charged with marijuana possession due to having the drug mailed to his house under his dogs name. Controversy seemed to follow Perez in 2013 whether it was his struggles, injuries, or marijuana scandal. His numbers were not all that impressive either. Perez was 25/30 in save opportunities but his advanced numbers got ugly. His ERA was 4.33, 5.08 FIP (which shows his defense didn’t help him much), but an xFIP of 3.83 (which isn’t great but more along the career lines of Perez), and his SIERA was 3.47. He struggled with the home run ball with a career high HR/FB (home run to fly ball ratio) of 20%. While he was hurt by the home run ball, he may have just been unlucky. His BABIP (batting average of balls in play) was .294, a career high since being a closer, and as stated earlier his FIP was 5.08. Perez may have gotten unlucky in 2013 due to his poor defense, abnormally high HR/FB ratio and BABIP against him. SIERA and xFIP shows he should have been better than his standard numbers may reveal. Or perhaps, this shows that his all-star 2011 and 2012 were lucky for him, but I think he was just unlucky in 2013.
However, a closer, unlucky or not, is expected to shutdown the opposition when entering the ball game in the 9th inning. Perez did not do this with the same frequency or general “ease” as 2011 or 2012, which quickly got him booted out of the closers role in late September. Perez had the shakiest month of his season in September, exactly when the Indians didn’t need it, as they were chasing, and got a Wildcard spot. Perez was booted out of the closers role late in September due to his 7.52 ERA since August 1st. Justin Masterson, who had a strained oblique and was able to pitch, but minimal innings was the prime candidate to close, and at the time of his demotion, Francona said guys like Cody Allen, Bryan Shaw, and Joe Smith would see time as closer.
After some up and down years with the Indians, what are the Dodgers getting with Chris Perez? The Dodgers actually may be making a smart move here by acquiring Perez. Perez is likely going to serve as a late inning guy, most likely splitting the 7th or 8th innings with re-signed former closer Brian Wilson. Kenley Jansen will be the closer in 2014 for the Dodgers but adding Perez gives the Dodgers plenty of insurance should Jansen get injured. Wilson has had his fair share of injury troubles so should Jansen get hurt, whoever is having the better season between Wilson or Perez would resume closing duties. Perez brings 2 all-star seasons (though, as mentioned earlier, were shaky ones) as a full time closer to the Dodgers on his resume. Perez can throw some heat and when he gets in a roll, Perez can become very dominant. I think Perez and Wilson as set-up men to Jansen would be one of the best, if not the best 7/8/9 inning tandem in the majors.
The deal is not finalized as of yet, but it is looking very likely that Chris Perez will be on his way to Los Angeles to don the Dodger blue. In my mind, a good pickup by the Dodgers to solidify the late innings.