ARLINGTON -- As the Marlins continue to spiral, swept in Sunday afternoon’s 6-0 loss to the Rangers at Globe Life Field, a reinforcement is expected to make his return to the rotation.
“We had this fairly mapped out,” general manager Kim Ng said. “I talked about him doing a combo of workouts and full-body workouts, bullpens, getting him back into competition, which we have. He's had several starts the last couple of weeks. We just had it mapped out. Like I said earlier, we wanted to give him a little breather, which we've done. We just felt like this was the time.”
Miami had optioned Pérez to Double-A Pensacola on July 7 to monitor his workload after he had surpassed his career high in innings between the Majors (53 1/3) and Minors (36 2/3). After not appearing in a game for 20 days, Pérez returned to the mound for the Blue Wahoos and built back up in truncated starts on July 26 (2 1/3 innings, 45 pitches) and Aug. 1 (3 1/3 innings, 63 pitches).
The Marlins originally called Pérez up on May 12 ahead of schedule due to necessity, with starters Johnny Cueto and Trevor Rogers on the injured list. The club was shuttling non-40-man-roster pitchers from the Minors. Miami intended to option Pérez sooner, when Rogers completed his rehab assignment, but the lefty sustained a setback that allowed the former top pitching prospect in baseball to stick around until just before the All-Star break.
Prior to that decision, his 2.36 ERA through his first 11 career starts (minimum 50 innings) was the lowest for a pitcher 20 years old or younger in the Live Ball Era.
“We feel happy about him because he's going to be back,” said mentor Sandy Alcantara, who surrendered three homers in six innings. “Especially for him, he was doing really good being here. So now we're going to have the opportunity to see him in Cincinnati, and he's got to keep doing what he was doing before.”
Miami (58-55) finds itself in a similar state of flux after right-hander Edward Cabrera's demotion to Triple-A Jacksonville because of his command issues and Rogers’ extended stay on the IL. After being three games up in the NL Wild Card picture entering the second half, the Marlins are a half-game back. The club is just three games over .500 for the first time since June 3 after dropping six of seven this week.
With Pérez in the rotation from May 12-July 6, the starting staff compiled:
- 3.63 ERA (second best in MLB)
- 278 innings (fifth most)
- 5.5 WAR (fourth highest)
- 32-19 team record
Since Pérez went back to the Minors on July 7, the starting staff entered Sunday:
- 4.42 ERA (17th highest)
- 118 innings (tied for 19th most)
- 1.1 WAR (18th highest)
- 7-16 team record
“It really wasn't affected by that,” Ng said of the decision to bring Pérez back up. “I think through all of this, we've always had to be flexible in how we think about it, but for this, it really was not dependent on others.”
Pérez’s inclusion in the rotation means pushing everyone back a day. Lefty Braxton Garrett and righty Johnny Cueto will follow Pérez in the Reds' series, then southpaw Jesús Luzardo will open the Yankees' series on Friday. With five upcoming off-days on the schedule, Pérez and the rest of the starters will have an extra day of rest -- something the organization wanted to use to its advantage.
“We're excited to have Eury back tomorrow, and we're looking forward to maybe him sparking us,” manager Skip Schumaker said. “I don't want to put too much pressure on a 20-year-old. We have to monitor him still, also. He's on his way back. I don't want him to feel like he has to be the hero, either. That's a lot of pressure to put on a 20-year-old. But I like my chances, obviously, with him.”
Asked whether Pérez would be able to pitch through the end of the regular season and the playoffs if the Marlins made it, Ng wouldn’t commit to that.
“As we've tried to do for most of the year is just monitor him and be super cautious,” Ng said. “Obviously, this is about his future, his health and making sure that we really don't jeopardize that.”