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Perez Looks To Continue Breakout Season In Wild Card Tiebreaker

Kevin Turner Kevin "KT" Turner
Kevin "KT" Turner is the producer of 105.3 The Fan's "Ben and Skin...
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ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 10:  Texas Rangers starting pitcher Martin Perez #33 pitches against the Pittsburgh Pirates in the top of the first inning at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on September 10, 2013 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

Rangers starting pitcher Martin Perez  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

ARLINGTON (105.3 THE FAN) – During the Rangers 2012 collapse, Martin Perez was a member of the Rangers’ five man rotation. Along with Yu Darvish, Derek Holland, Matt Harrison, and Ryan Dempster, the 21-year-old Perez was given the opportunity to start over the course of the last three rotation rounds of the season. Injuries, and the overall ineffectiveness of Scott Feldman were the primary reason for this, and many were discouraged by the poor outings he had.  He’d already made starts earlier in the year, but it was pretty clear that he wasn’t ready for the big leagues just yet.

On September 21st at Safeco Field he only went 4 innings allowing 3 earned runs and 6 hits against a pathetic Mariners offense. Then on September 26th, he couldn’t even go a full inning, yanked after 2/3 of an inning pitched and giving up 5 runs to the surging A’s. He was given the ball again in game #160, and again he struggled, only going 4 innings and allowing 4 runs, again to the eventual AL West champion Oakland A’s.

We fast forward to spring training in Surprise, Arizona, and Perez was all set to be a member of the Rangers opening day rotation, when on March 3rd he was hit by a line drive hit by Mariners rookie Brad Miller.  Perez would not make his first start for the Rangers in 2013 until May 27th.  Two days later the Rangers sent him down to Triple A-Round Rock where he would then go 4-0 with a 1.13 ERA in four starts, before being called back up to the bigs on June 22nd to take Josh Lindblom’s spot in the rotation. Yes, the Rangers played actual games this season with Josh Lindblom penciled in as their starter.

It was on that day, Saturday June 22nd, that Martin Perez put his stamp on his season, and quite possibly his entire career. Against the first place St. Louis Cardinals, Perez went 7 strong, allowing only 2 runs, and then followed that up with 6-plus innings of scoreless pitching against the Reds.  There were a few bumps along the way in the middle of July, but other than that Martin Perez has been really good for the Rangers this year.

Since a 3 inning, 6 earned run effort against the Indians at the end of July, Perez has not yet allowed more than 4 runs in those final 12 starts of the season.  In just two of those starts did he not go at least 6 innings.  In 19 starts, he went 10-5 with a 3.55 ERA and racked up 120 innings of work.

He’ll likely score a couple rookie of the year votes.  But none of that matters right now.  What matters is start number 20.  A kid, who at the age of 21 made Rangers fans cringe last year as he failed to get the job done in the midst of the Rangers nuclear explosion.  A kid who always seemed to struggle to meet the expectations of the media and fans.  A kid who seemed to have an irrational sense of entitlement, but now has proven he belongs. A kid who’s name is well known in other markets, only due to the fact that his name is a constant piece to a trade rumor story. He’s a kid, at age 22, who will be going up against a highly prized acquisition target, and one of the best pitchers in the league in David Price.

Which Martin will we get? The calm, cool, collected, and consistent Martin from the last two months?  Or will we get the fragile, down-trodden lefty who just never could live up to those Johan Santana comparisons?  I can’t wait to find out.

[Kevin Turner is the producer of the Ben and Skin show, 2-6 Monday through Friday on 105.3 The Fan.  You can reach him on twitter @ktfuntweets or email him at kevin.turner@cbsradio.com.  Kevin wants you to know that he loves you.]

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