Oliver Perez notches win in Double-A debut for Nationals

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Signed to a minor-league contract by the Nationals after being released by the Mets during spring training, Oliver Perez made his Double-A debut yesterday and picked up a victory with five innings of one-run ball.

Perez, who’s being paid $12 million by the Mets this season, allowed just one run against the Twins’ affiliate and perhaps most importantly handed out just two walks.

Of course, he threw only 44 of 79 pitches for strikes, managed only three strikeouts versus a pretty weak lineup, and Adam Rubin of ESPN New York reports that his velocity was still in the mid-80s, so Perez was hardly dominant with pinpoint control.

Still, considering how awful he’s been for several years now it’s a big step in the right direction.

How Yu Darvish tipped his pitches during the World Series

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You hear a lot about pitchers tipping pitches. It’s often offered up post-facto as an excuse for poor performance by the pitcher himself or his own team. It’s sort of like the “best shape of my life” thing being offered in the offseason to talk about why the player got injured or played badly the previous year. “Smitty’s stuff is still great, he was just tipping his pitches,” said a source close to the player whose stuff is not really great anymore.

Which isn’t to say that pitchers don’t tip pitches. Of course they do. Opposing teams look for it, pick up on it and take advantage of it whenever they can. It’s just that (a) the opposing team has an interest in not talking about it, lest the pitcher STOP tipping its pitches; and (b) the guy actually tipping his pitches doesn’t want to talk specifically about it lest he starts doing it again.

Which is what makes this article at Sports Illustrated so interesting. In it Tom Verducci talks to an anonymous Houston Astros player who explains how Dodgers starter Yu Darvish was tipping his pitches during the World Series, leading to him getting absolutely shellacked in Games 3 and 7. The upshot: the Astros knew when a slider or a cutter was coming, they waited for it and they teed off.

Darvish is a free agent now. I’m guessing, whoever signs him, knows exactly what they’ll gave him work on the first day of spring training.