Pérez's dominance worth the wait for Rangers

June 22nd, 2022

ARLINGTON -- Martín Pérez was always meant to be a high-level starter for the Rangers.

Signed out of Venezuela in 2007, the left-hander was the club’s top prospect in ’12 and made his MLB debut soon after. Eleven years later, Pérez is exactly the pitcher the Rangers thought he would be all those years ago. They just didn’t expect him to make pit stops in Minnesota and Boston on the way.

Regardless of what it took to get here, Pérez is putting together a career year on the mound and vying for his first All-Star appearance.

“I’m very, very biased,” Rangers manager Chris Woodward said. “But yes, I mean anybody who looks at his numbers can obviously make a simple argument for [an All-Star nod]. He definitely deserves it.”

Pérez proved it again on Tuesday night, when he combined with three relievers to shut out the Phillies in a 7-0 win at Globe Life Field to open a five-game homestand. It was just another quality start -- his 11th this season -- as he continued to solidify himself as one of the American League’s best pitchers.

It was the fifth shutout victory of the season for the Rangers, four of which have come on days when Pérez starts.

After his six shutout innings against the Phillies, Pérez had lowered his ERA from 2.10 to 1.96, which is the second lowest in franchise history through a pitcher’s first 14 starts in the season. Even on a day like Tuesday, when he’s allowing more traffic on the basepaths than he would like -- with six hits and three walks -- Pérez was consistently able to avoid the big inning.

Pérez said his ability to stay calm in situations like those has come with his experience and maturity he gained over the years. In spots where he previously would’ve gotten frustrated with himself, he’s been able to put away hitters and get out of jams.

“You have to make adjustments, no matter what,” Pérez said. “To come here and be back home and doing what I'm doing, this is really good. Not big just for me, but for the team. I just gotta go out there and do my best for everybody. I’m just trying to not lose my focus just on my game, throw the pitches where I want them, and I’m gonna get the results.”

Pérez’s rise in his second stint with the club is even more astonishing when you remember how he started the season.

He opened with an 0-2 record and 6.75 ERA over his first two games. Since then, he’s posted a 5-0 record and 1.47 ERA over 12 games, which is the lowest ERA by a Rangers pitcher over any 12-start span since Gaylord Perry in 1975 (1.31).

Only once during that stretch did Pérez allow more than three earned runs in an outing -- a June 11 start in Chicago in which he gave up a season-high 12 hits and a season-high seven runs. Otherwise, he’s been lights out.

“I think the way I’m throwing my fastball is one of the keys,” Pérez said of his success. “Inside, outside and then inside with movement, going outside with a changeup and a cutter. I never throw the ball in the same spot, so I think that’s what happens in all my games. It was fun today.”

It’s quite a coincidence that Pérez went toe to toe with former Rangers pitcher Kyle Gibson in Tuesday night’s win. Pérez joins Gibson as the most recent pitcher to come to Texas and regain All-Star form.

Gibson earned his first All-Star bid in his final season with the Rangers in 2021. Pérez is well on his way to doing the same.

“I'll always have a soft spot in my heart for [Gibson],” Woodward said. “And Martín comes in having a career year. It's exciting anytime you bring in guys that had been good in the past but really had some ups and downs, and then they kind of figure some things out with your club. Our staff does a great job with our pitchers, and it’s on our pitchers with their buy-in to everything. Martín has been awesome in every way this year.”