Chris Perez’s bullpen session yesterday went a lot better than the one that left him with a strained left oblique nearly a month ago.
According to Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Perez threw 20 pitches — all fastballs — in his first throwing session since the injury and felt no pain in his side. He’s scheduled to throw another bullpen session on Sunday and live batting practice on Tuesday. Barring any setbacks, he could make his Cactus League debut next Friday against the Angels.
It’s not known if he’ll be ready for Opening Day, but Indians’ manager Manny Acta said he would be comfortable if Perez made six or seven appearances before the team breaks camp. If he pitches next Friday, there would be just 11 games left on the Cactus League schedule, so it’s possible he could get some work in on the minor league side.
Perez, 26, posted a 3.32 ERA and 39/26 K/BB ratio across 59 2/3 innings last season while saving 36 games in 40 chances. Vinnie Pestano would likely handle save chances if he’s not ready for the start of the season.
Some good news for the Nationals today: All-Star hurler Max Scherzer is due back from the injured list this week, this time (hopefully) for good. He’s slated to start during Thursday’s series finale against the Pirates.
It’s been a long road back for the right-hander, who earned his seventh consecutive All-Star designation after heading into the break with a 2.30 ERA, 5.6 fWAR, and a league-leading 7.56 SO/BB rate. An untimely back injury forced him to the injured list in the days leading up to the All-Star Game, however, and he hasn’t returned in any kind of part-time or full-time capacity since.
While Scherzer was originally expected to pitch for the Nationals sometime during their weekend series versus the Brewers, manager Dave Martinez elected to push back his return date by a few days. It’s not clear whether he felt some lingering pain during his 64-pitch simulated start on Saturday or whether the Nationals simply want to play it safe with their ace, but either way, the club apparently feels like Scherzer will be back to full strength before the end of the week.
If so, his return would be a significant asset to the Nationals, who could use a sub-3.00 ERA, 5.0-fWAR starter to help bolster their standing in the NL East. Still, there’s no guarantee that the veteran righty is ready to shoulder a full-time role in Washington’s rotation, nor is it certain that he’ll be able to match his results from the first half of the season. In one start between IL stints last month, he dealt five innings of three-run, two-walk, eight-strikeout ball in an 8-7 loss to the Rockies.