Can The Mets Contend?
A Rough Start For Jerry Manuel

Where Exactly is Olliver Perez's Fastball?

As Oliver Perez performances go, his Saturday start vs. the Washington Nationals was not great but not terrible. Still, it left you with the feeling something was missing -- namely his fastball. The enigmatic Met southpaw usually clocks in between 91 and 92 mph but he was living well below that level so you naturally wonder where the gas on his fastball is.

“I am still getting stronger and stronger and my fastball will come but the main thing for me is commanding all of my pitches which I did not do today," said Perez. A range of 86-88 mph is a problem for him because it creates less of a contrast in speed between his slider and his fastball.

There are those who have theorized that Perez is holding back on velocity in order to get better control on his pitches, but he dispelled that notion when he said, “I am not holding back because my ball is still moving late and the velocity will be there.”

Perez is being counted on to provide the Mets with the consistent starting pitching you would expect from a $13 million-a-year ballplayer, and Mets manager Jerry Manuel thinks he will get that from him. “I just think Oliver was the victim of some quality at-bats today as Wily Taveras had all four RBIs off him. It was not so much the walks as it was that Taveras did a nice job in those situations,” said Manuel.

But it was bases on balls that set up those hitting situations as Perez walked Ivan Rodriguez twice to set the table for Taveras and that is still the rub for him. When you look at his pitch count, you see 101 pitches and only 59 strikes, which is far too many balls for him to survive in a game -- even against the lowly Nationals.

“I know I need to throw more strikes especially here at home," said Perez, “and as I get stronger and stronger I will throw more strikes, but it is still early in the season.”

I cannot disagree that it is early in the season, but after a 70-92 campaign, things might start getting late real early if Perez does not find his command and his velocity in short order. His next scheduled start is Friday night in St. Louis, which is not exactly the venue you want to be in if your velocity is not up to snuff.


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