Jon Blau, of www.mlb.com, writes about Perez rising to the occasion in big games.
It's a big game for Oliver Perez.
Why would this start be bigger than any other game, you ask?
Not because it's the Yankees -- just because manager Jerry Manuel said so.
"You know, Oliver has been a big-game guy, and if he can go out and give us that [Sunday], we'll find a way to make every game a big game for him," Manuel joked. "We'll tell you, 'This is a big game for you. It isn't for me, but it will be for you today.'"
(Perez, like the Mets, has been maddeningly inconsistent, frequently playing great against better competition, then, lacking production vs. lesser teams)
If Manuel had to choose whether to utilize Perez vs. the Mets' cross town rival or the Major League's worst team, he would probably take more comfort in the first option right now. In games vs. above-.500 teams, Perez has a 3.81 ERA. Against teams with a losing record, he has complied an 8.07 ERA.
(This just shows a lack of concentration. He probably gets more excited, and better prepared, against expected tougher competition.)
After allowing five earned runs in five innings against the last-place Mariners on Tuesday, there was some worry as to whether Perez's spot in the rotation posed more negatives than positives. His ERA has consistently bloated from month to month, as Perez had a 4.03 mark at the end of April, followed by a 5.58 ERA in May, which was then toppled by a 6.46 ERA thus far in five June starts.
(This is a disturbing trend.)
But Manuel has been able to make light of the big-game phenomenon leading up to Perez's Sunday start. Really, he's already called the Subway Series a "playoff-type atmosphere," but Manuel would absolutely like to trick Perez into thinking this is the World Series, if possible.
Some of the lefty's best starts have been under pressure. Perez held the then-Major League leaders in batting average, the Rangers, to one run on June 13. On May 18 in Yankee Stadium, he permitted only two runs during a season-high 7 2/3 innings.
There's no doubt that Perez has potential. He's 26 years old, and he can cook up a mid-90s fastball along with biting, yet unpredictable, breaking pitches. The only question: Will this package of pure stuff manifest itself into a consistent starting pitcher?
"We sometimes get carried away with -- to a fault -- potential," Manuel said. "He has tremendous potential, and our job is to harness that potential, channel it and put it in the right direction, and hopefully get some consistency out of it. He will continue -- whether it's us or somebody else -- he will continue to get an opportunity simply because he has that type of potential."
(Hopefully other teams see this potential, and offer prospects to the Mets for Perez. I highly doubt he'll re-sign with the Mets as a free agent, after this season. Hopefully, the Mets can trade him for a package of prospects that's worth trading him before the deadline, and not keeping him all year, and receiving draft picks, instead, if he leaves as a free agent.)