It’s Not a Straight Line

I watched nearly every pitch of Martin Perez’s best baseball performance tonight. He was, as you know, fantastic. He pitched a complete game and only gave up 3 hits and 2 runs. He walked a couple of batters and fanned 4 more. The most remarkable statistic is that he did it with only 90 pitches.  He was a different guy up there tonight. We may never see that guy again, or we may see him on a regular basis. He was different. When I first saw Perez he was working 96 and daring batters to swing. Tonight, he was working 92 and encouraging them to swing.  He was doing so, firm in the knowledge that he’d placed the ball in a location where they couldn’t get the good part of the bat on it. I saw Martin start hitters off with different pitches all night. Most of them for strikes. The lower and outer parts of the strike zone were his consistent domain. He was pitching tonight. His development has not been linear.  It has been, and most likely will continue to be, a frustrating arduous climb, but he’ll be a big leaguer.  I have no idea what to expect from his next start, but I think with this kid it starts between the ears. I know that is a tired and cheap sports narrative, but he had swagger tonight. He had the youthful arrogance that can never actually be recaptured as one ages. He looked tonight like most 21 year olds. Confident that his best days are ahead of him and cocksure there is nothing you or I can do to stop him. I know I’m not alone in hoping the feeling sticks around for a long, long time.  Tonight, Martin Perez- the pitcher, was fun to watch.