In the week prior to Opening Day, I wrote a piece entitled, Luis Perdomo Should Make the Starting Rotation. During the offseason, there was a significant amount of debate amongst San Diego Padres fans, as to whether the 23-year-old RHP should return to the MLB roster, or be sent down to the lower levels for further conditioning. After being in favor of the latter for most of the winter, I finally landed on the notion that seeing Perdomo’s growth at the highest level would be both exciting for the fans and accelerative for the player. Hence, the title of my piece. It came down to the wire, but Perdomo did make the opening day roster and a spot in the starting rotation.
With a little over half of the 2017 season in the books, it’s a good time to evaluate the youngster’s performance and whether he was properly placed back in April after all.
The easy answer is, yes. Perdomo’s presence on the Padres this season has been appropriate as well as necessary. Perdomo has been one of the more effective starters and one of the most consistent. Each of the other pitchers who were vying for that final rotation spot have fallen to injury and out of the question. Back in April, Christian Friedrich went down with an injury to his left lat muscle and eventually hit the 60-day disabled list. Next, Jarred Cosart was placed on the D.L. back in June and was forced to undergo season ending elbow surgery in July. Jared Weaver has been on the DL since May and likely won’t pitch for the Padres again. The rotation sustained so many injuries that the team was forced to call Dinelson Lamet up from Triple-A, which some saw as a premature move. At this point in the season, it’s actually hard to imagine that it was ever a possibility for the rotation to go without Perdomo. That debate was clearly settled by its own nature.
My only lament is that I think if there had been a greater surplus of healthy arms surrounding Perdomo, he may have been able to spend a short stint down in Double or Triple-A, simply to save a year of service time. Presently, it looks like he’ll stay with the Padres for the season based on team needs.
Let’s take a look at his performance so far this season:
Here’s what I’ve noticed so far; Perdomo’s year has been pretty consistent with what he was doing at the end of the 2016 season. In 2017, he has an ERA of 4.92, with 4.28 FIP and a 4.05 xFIP. In the second half of 2016 he produced an ERA of 4.30, with a FIP of 4.86 and a xFIP of 4.06. Those numbers are pretty close wouldn’t you say?
An area in which Perdomo has seen a slight increase in the numbers is his ground ball percentage. It’s no secret that Perdomo’s game is in inducing weak contact on the ground. His ground ball percentage was 59 for all of 2016. He has brought that percentage up to 63 in 2017. It’s fair to speculate whether Perdomo’s numbers would be lower with better defense behind him. The Padres rank 26th in the league with a DRS of -33. They’re 25th in UZR at -26.8. It’s hard to completely blame Perdomo for his stats when his team can’t provide routine defensive support, especially if he’s able to offer up double plays on a silver platter.
The good news in all of this is that it doesn’t appear that Perdomo is regressing. The fear of regression was one of the main arguments of those in favor of keeping Perdomo down in the minors. His consistency has been encouraging, especially when reminded of the fact that he’s 24 years old and only in his second year above High-A ball. On the other hand, with the potential attributed to Perdomo and the high expectations placed on him this season, his modest numbers have left a lot to be desired.
Perdomo has given up at least four runs in five of his last six starts. He’s become a victim of the big inning. The latest example of this was on August 2 against the Minnesota Twins, during which he gave up five runs on seven hits and two walks in six innings in a 5-2 loss. He surrendered four runs in the second inning and one in the sixth. It was obviously the second inning that killed him as the team was able to provide him with two runs in support. Outings like this have been the story of Perdomo’s season.
After the game, manager Andy Green weighed in with his perspective on Perdomo’s season:
“It’s kind of the same story with him, and it’s time to turn the page, really. The stuff’s really good. A number of innings that are incredibly clean, efficient, easy. Dominating, almost. And then the one inning that kind of gets away from him.
“It’s the ability to control your emotions on the mound, the ability to recognize your stuff’s still plenty good. Yes, occasionally a pitcher slaps a ball down the line and drives in two. But now stop it and let’s turn the page and get the next guy out. He’s got that ability. He is young, but he can do that, and it’s time to start doing that consistently.
Here Green is challenging Perdomo to step up his game. It seems that the kid gloves are coming off, so to speak. Green is essentially inciting Perdomo to harness his mental game, which apparently seems to be the issue, from the manager’s perspective. Green used the phrase “turn the page” twice in his statement. This mantra could be useful to Perdomo, both moving forward in his career, starting with his next outing, and also situationally out on the mound. Green’s ability to be critical of his players, while being inspirational rather than denigrating them, is one of the many reasons that I love him for this team.
It’s without question that Luis Perdomo is one of the most exciting players on the Padres. He has the potential to be a real contributor in the future while giving fans a front row seat to his developmental journey. If you ask me, I believe that he’s going to put it together sooner than later and will become a top quality starting pitcher that the Padres will be able to rely on. Again, he’s young, he’s inexperienced, and the fact that he’s not showing signs of regression bodes very well. I look forward to following his career in the coming years.