Oliver Perez has had an up and down career. He debuted in 2002 with the San Diego Padres, before being traded to the Pirates (along with Jason Bay), and then eventually to the Mets. He was a starting pitcher for most of his career, but since 2012, he's exclusively been a reliever. After making the transition to the bullpen, Perez has revived himself and undoubtedly extended his career at the big league level.
In 182.1 innings, he's posted a 3.31 ERA, a 3.21 FIP, and a 2.93 SIERA. Perez has been a good bullpen option, but one small change could make him elite, turning him into a LOOGY. In case you're unfamiliar with that acronym, or simply forgot what it stands for (of which I'm guilty nearly every time I see it), it's Lefty One-Out GuY.
Lefty specialists have become a common occurrence as bullpens have become more specialized, but in 2015, Perez faced just 15 more LHB's than RHB's. In fact, over the last four seasons, he's faced 429 right-handed hitters and 362 left-handed hitters. He has yet to make the transition into a LOOGY, but it's clear that he should be the next pitcher to join the brotherhood.
Across the board, Perez was significantly worse against right-handed hitters, to the point that it was seemingly irresponsible to use him in those situations. His slash line against RHB's was .296/.410/.457, and while he still posted a fantastic K/9 (10.34), that was the only statistic that didn't suffer considerably. Although his splits were much more pronounced in 2015, his struggles versus right-handed hitters isn't a new phenomenon, but rather something that's been consistent throughout his career.
However, it's clearly become more of an issue now that he's a reliever rather than when he was a starting pitcher. The underlying issue seems to be that against RHB's, Perez is being hit much harder, which can be seen via his batted-ball data.
|vs L||1.23||16.9 %||45.8 %||37.3 %||25.0 %||58.3 %||16.7 %|
|vs R||0.55||32.0 %||24.0 %||44.0 %||20.8 %||49.1 %||30.2 %|
Just like the previous table, Perez's statistics against lefties are far superior and help highlight the clear Jekyll and Hyde situation that is going on here. Against righties, Perez's hard-hit rate is 81 percent higher, which has undoubtedly contributed to, if not spearheaded, his rise in line drives and fly balls.
Thanks to his revival as a reliever, Perez shouldn't have any trouble finding a home for 2016 and beyond; however, one team might be interested in his services more than the rest: the San Francisco Giants. Since August of 2010, Javier Lopez has been Bruce Bochy's go-to option when he needs to get left-handed hitters out, but after next season, he's likely to retire. Perez might even represent an upgrade over Lopez, as he strikes out far more batters and thus allows less contact overall.
Since 2013, Perez has earned $1.5 million, $1.75 million, and $2.5 million, respectively, and he's undeniably in line for a raise. Lopez has made at least $4 million since 2012, which could serve as a comparison point for Perez during his upcoming negotiations.
While it remains to be seen how many teams will be interested in Perez this offseason, and specifically which teams, one thing that shouldn't be in question is how he needs to be used next year, and seemingly for the rest of his tenure in MLB. To ignore the fact that he's definitively, unequivocally bad against right-handers would be careless, and for all parties involved, it's time to make Perez a LOOGY.
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Matt Goldman is a Featured Writer with Beyond the Box Score and a Contributing Editor at MLB Daily Dish. You can follow him on Twitter at @TheOriginalBull.