AnalysisNL East

The Marlins Have A Young Ace On Their Hands

Last week, I wrote about the Miami Marlins and their surprise start to the 2023 season. In that piece, I discussed two pitchers that are surprisingly headlining the club’s rotation. The first was Braxton Garrett. The second was six-foot, eight-inch right-hander Eury Pérez.

Pérez became the youngest pitcher in Marlins history when he made his debut on May 12 against the Cincinnati Reds. Since then, Pérez has put together quite the resumé, which isn’t much of a surprise. The young righty came into the season as Miami’s top prospect. He was also a consensus top-15 prospect among the most well-known outlets that put together prospect rankings.

In his nine starts, five of which have been scoreless, Pérez has pitched 47 innings with a 1.34 ERA, 0.979 WHIP, 54 strikeouts, and 15 walks. On Sunday, he pitched six scoreless innings in a win over the Pittsburgh Pirates. It was the third consecutive outing of such length and run prevention for Pérez, making him the youngest pitcher since at least 1901 to do so.

The hard-throwing righty has been plenty of fun to watch this season as he carves through lineups with his strong pitch arsenal. But as is the case with most young pitchers in today’s game, Pérez’s workload will be heavily monitored. So it isn’t that crazy to wonder how much longer he’ll be in Miami’s rotation.


Pérez’s Arsenal

The Dominican-born right-hander uses a four-pitch mix on the mound consisting of a four-seam fastball, slider, curveball, and changeup. He uses his fastball-slider combination the most while mixing in his other two pitches less frequently. If you want to bet on this pitcher, platforms like slot online gacor is now at one’s fingertips.

Pérez throws his four-seamer 45.4 percent of the time and averages 97.5 mph with it. His fastball’s average spin rate (2,633 RPM) is also in the 99th percentile in that category in the big leagues. But despite those strong numbers, Pérez’s fastball has been his most hittable pitch. Opponents have a .268 batting average against it, while they are slugging .524.

His breaking and off-speed pitches have been much stronger, though. Pérez throws his slider 27.8 percent of the time. Hitters are whiffing at that pitch on 42.7 percent of their swings. They are hitting just .148 against Pérez’s slider and are slugging .222.

While the right-hander uses his curveball (15.3 percent) and changeup (11.6 percent) less often than his fastball or slider, both pitches have been harder for big leaguers to hit. The whiff rate on his curve is 60.4 percent and the whiff rate on his changeup is 53.1 percent. Both the batting average and slugging percentage against Pérez’s curveball are an extremely low .048, while no batter has recorded a hit against his changeup.

Here are those four pitches in use:

Four-seam fastball

Slider

Curveball

Changeup


How Many More Innings Does He Have?

In July of 2019, Pérez signed with the Marlins as an international free agent. However, he didn’t make his professional debut until 2021 because the 2020 minor league season was canceled. In his first professional season at the age of 18, the righty pitched 78 innings between his 20 starts for Miami’s Single-A and High-A affiliates.

Last year, Pérez pitched 77 innings — 75 of which came at the Double-A level with the Pensacola Blue Wahoos. The right-hander found himself in Pensacola again at the start of 2023 before being called up to the big leagues. When combining his innings at Double-A with the innings he’s pitched for the Marlins so far this year, Pérez is currently at 78 — tied for the most he’s ever thrown in a single season.

With that being the case, it’s not a surprise that Craig Mish of the Miami Herald recently reported that the Marlins are in the process of figuring out how to give the young pitcher some rest:

Even before that report, it was obvious the Marlins were putting limits on how far they were willing to let Pérez go in games. None of his nine starts have gone beyond the sixth inning, while the most pitches he’s thrown in an outing is 93. In his other eight starts, he hasn’t surpassed the 90-pitch mark.

Putting limits on young arms isn’t new and it isn’t a bad decision. Most young pitchers don’t ever experience big workloads before reaching professional baseball. And once they get into a club’s minor league system, they have to be eased into putting serious innings on their bodies to ensure current and future health. With a pitcher that has a promising future such as Pérez’s, organizations keep an even closer eye on how many innings those guys pitch in any given season.

Pérez’s next start will likely put him beyond 80 innings in a season for the first time in his professional career. Without knowledge of how Miami exactly wants to handle the situation, an innings limit of 100 to 125 is probably the furthest they would go with the young right-hander. That’s about three to six more starts after his scheduled one this weekend.

If they wanted to stretch that out into more compact outings, a move to the bullpen would make sense. But doing that would involve finding a replacement in the rotation for a guy who has been their best starting pitcher since his debut.

No matter what the organization decides to do, it’ll be an interesting story to follow. Especially with Miami currently in the playoff hunt.


Featured Photo: Twitter / @Marlins

Bailey Digh

I've been writing for Diamond Digest since July 2022. I'm also currently a contributor for Phillies Nation. You can find me on X @bailey_digh.

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