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Oliver Perez has been reborn as a reliever

Jun 15, 2013, 7:55 PM EDT

Seattle Mariners v Oakland Athletics Getty Images

When the Mets acquired left-hander Oliver Perez in a trade with the Pirates at the 2006 trade deadline, they thought they were getting a top-of-the-rotation pitcher. Five tumultuous seasons later, Perez’s tenure as a Met was meekly ended during spring training prior to the 2011 season having compiled a 4.71 ERA over 520 innings in New York. Since then, Perez toiled in the Minors with the Nationals in 2011, and with the Mariners in the first half of 2012.

The Mariners, though, did something the Mets and Nationals did not — they converted Perez to a reliever. With Triple-A Tacoma last year, Perez posted a 4.65 ERA in 31 innings. He struggled with control, walking 19, but also rediscovered his swing-and-miss stuff, striking out 42 batters. He was promoted to the Majors in mid-June last year. Between June 18 and the end of the regular season, he posted a 2.12 ERA in 29.2 innings with 24 strikeouts and 10 walks.

Somehow, Perez has been even better this year. In 24.1 innings, the 31-year-old has a 1.11 ERA with 33 strikeouts and 12 walks. He earned the first save of his 12-year career last night, shutting the door on the Athletics in the bottom of the ninth for a 3-2 victory.

Perez’s success has to be in the back of the mind of any team that is considering going after Tim Lincecum in free agency. Lincecum has continued to struggle as a starter, but prospered out of the Giants’ bullpen in the post-season last year. Future Hall of Famer John Smoltz, who performed well in both roles, thinks Lincecum has a future as a reliever.

If Oliver Perez can do it, why can’t Tim Lincecum?

  1. proudlycanadian - Jun 15, 2013 at 8:12 PM

    From what little I have seen of Perez, he has been terrific in the Seattle pen.I wonder if Detroit will take a run at Lincecum. Their pen is terrible.

    • flamethrower101 - Jun 15, 2013 at 8:35 PM

      The biggest question should be whether or not Tim Lincecum is willing to suck up some of his pride and covert to the bullpen. I’m sure he’s not stupid enough to think that he’s just going to magically turn it around and become a dominant ace starter again. Those days are over. But he was absolutely electric in the bullpen during the 2012 playoffs.

      If he’s willing to give up starting, and he proves he’s as electric as he was last year in the playoffs, I’m sure the Tigers won’t be the only team vying for his services.

      • duckthefodgers - Jun 15, 2013 at 8:52 PM

        Lincecum has already said on record hes open to be a reliever.

      • gloccamorra - Jun 16, 2013 at 12:01 PM

        I’m not sure his days are over as a starter. In big games, he turns it up, and he did that in the playoffs from the bullpen. He’s gone from a 24 year old where everything was new and exciting to 29 when he loses focus. It’s not loss of stuff, it looks like a lack of mental toughness.

        Some guys have made mental attitude adjustments on their own, some got help to make something click, some never recover from flabbiness between the ears. Anyone picking him up is taking a gamble, no matter how he’s used.

      • rmcd13 - Jun 16, 2013 at 12:38 PM

        I’m sure some team will pay for him to come be a starter. The Brewers, Orioles, and Indians are three contending teams that might be willing to pay Lincecum to start for them.

  2. Gobias Industries - Jun 15, 2013 at 9:19 PM

    “The Mariners, though, did something the Mets and Nationals did not — they converted Perez to a reliever.”

    Not completely true. The Mets did convert him to a reliever; just not successfully. His last 10 games with the Mets were as a reliever: 9.00 ERA in 13 IP.

    • Bill Baer - Jun 15, 2013 at 9:20 PM

      ah, good catch. Thanks.

  3. insidefastball - Jun 16, 2013 at 12:54 AM

    Perez probably enjoys pitching outside of the spotlight for a small market team again. I think part of his problem in New York was the constant scrutiny from the fans and the press.

    • fanofevilempire - Jun 16, 2013 at 11:16 AM

      tough to blame the fans and press when you sign a contract and
      can’t deliver, I guess Jason Bay was misunderstood too.
      oh boy!

  4. potatoesogrady - Jun 16, 2013 at 9:46 AM

    That’s not entirely accurate. He was already a reclamation project at that point, and secondary in importance to Roberto Hernandez in the trade. The main goal was replacing Duaner Sanchez after he was hurt in a cab accident. Ollie went straight to AAA so they could try to fix his arm slot and head.

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