It hasn’t been all puppy dogs and ice cream for Salvador Perez this season.
The 30-year-old catcher tested positive for COVID-19 back in July. More recently, he missed nearly a month of action due to blurred vision as a result of a fluid-filled particle in his left eye.
There’s also the fact that Perez went 22 months in between playing games that count, having missed all of last season following Tommy John surgery.
Well, the six-time All-Star returned to action a week and a half ago and he’s been smashing the ball ever since.
Perez had a big hand in the Royals’ 12-3 thumping of the Cardinals on Wednesday, popping a two-run homer and a three-run shot off of starter Carlos Martinez. He also added a bloop double for good measure.
In 11 games since returning from his eye issue, Perez has gone 21-for-47 (.447) at the dish while banging out six home runs, driving in 17 runs and scoring 11 times. He even added a stolen base during that stretch.
Perez’s batting line for the season is now sitting at a robust .356/.371/.667. His OPS of 1.039 is behind only Juan Soto, Freddie Freeman and Marcell Ozuna among players with at least 100 plate appearances.
The Statcast data also paints a pretty picture for Perez. Going into Wednesday’s game, Perez ranked third in baseball with a .357 xBA and ninth with a .615 xSLG. His 90.6 mph exit velocity ranked in the 82nd percentile.
It would have been understandable had Perez struggled in his first year back from Tommy John surgery, but the delayed start to the season likely helped him in that regard. The veteran backstop has a lot of wear on his tires but isn’t showing signs of slowing down. After clubbing 27 home runs in 2017 and again in 2018, Perez is looking as good as ever at the plate in this shortened season.
The Padres acquired Mike Clevinger at the trade deadline thinking he’d be their ace in October. They’re now just hoping he makes it there.
Clevinger had to exit Wednesday’s start against the Angels after just one inning due to renewed tightness in his right biceps. It’s the same ailment that caused him to be scratched from a scheduled outing last weekend. He’s undergone an MRI and is awaiting the results.
“It was originally around the biceps tendon,” manager Jayce Tingler said. “It just got tight in that area. That’s what he said. We’re going to wait for the results and see what the doctors say. I don’t want to speculate on anything else because I honestly don’t know.”
As the skipper alluded to, more will obviously be known after Clevinger’s test results come in. For what it’s worth, Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune writes that the Padres “fear they have lost” Clevinger for the postseason.
The Padres could still be in decent shape in regards to their postseason rotation even if they’re without Clevinger. Dinelson Lamet has pitched like a legitimate No. 1 starter this season with a 2.07 ERA, 0.87 WHIP and 89/19 K/BB ratio over 65 1/3 innings. Chris Paddack has had a disappointing year but is certainly capable of brilliance. There’s also Zach Davies, who has rode a changeup-heavy approach to a career (shortened) season.
Still, having Clevinger in the mix pushes the Padres from a pretty good playoff rotation to an excellent one. And so, we wait.
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Rough Stretch for Robert
It wasn’t that long ago that Luis Robert was a contender – if not the favorite – for the American League Rookie of the Year award.
The exiting young center fielder was boasting a .298/.348/.612 batting line with 10 home runs and 24 RBI across 33 games through the end of August. He was also playing Gold Glove-caliber defense in center field.
However, with apologies to Earth, Wind and Fire, Robert does not remember dancing in September.
Since the calendar flipped to the final month of the regular season, Robert has simply fallen apart at the plate. He’s managed just six hits – five singles – across 70 at-bats, good for a lowly .086 batting average. He’s hitless over his last eight games, going 0-for-26, and the 23-year-old is striking out at a 37 percent clip for the month. Robert’s OPS was sitting at .960 coming into September but now it’s all the way down to .726.
I could go on, but it just seems mean.
Robert has always been a super aggressive hitter since entering pro ball, so the possibility existed that when it turned bad for him that it could get really bad. You never anticipate this kind of funk, though, especially when it was preceded by MVP-level production.
Fantasy leaguers will still take what Robert has given them this season. Even with him being a drain on your average, Robert has been a top-20 outfielder and top-40 hitter thanks to his power/speed combo. That said, if on your roster he’s proven to be a detriment at crunch time when you’re trying to push to that league title.
American League Quick Hits: Shane Bieber allowed only an unearned run over five innings and fanned 10 against the White Sox on Wednesday … Lucas Giolito pitched six innings of two-run ball and struck out 11 against the Indians on Wednesday … Miguel Cabrera hit two three-run homers in a loss to the Twins on Wednesday … Danny Jansen went 4-for-5 with two homers and a double Wednesday as the Blue Jays steamrolled the Yankees … Jake Cave homered twice and drove in three runs against the Tigers on Wednesday … Nick Margevicius pitched six scoreless innings Wednesday to pick up a win over the Astros … Austin Hays picked up three hits and a solo homer in a loss to the Red Sox on Wednesday … Nathan Eovaldi fired six scoreless innings to help the Red Sox to an win over the Orioles on Wednesday … Franchy Cordero homered twice and drove in five runs against the Cardinals on Wednesday in a blowout victory … Randy Arozarena homered twice on Wednesday in the Rays' win on Wednesday over the Mets … Nelson Cruz (knee) remained out of the Twins' lineup on Wednesday but was available to pinch-hit.
National League Quick Hits: Pitching on three days' rest, Trevor Bauer struck out 12 while allowing just one run over eight innings Wednesday in a victory over the Brewers … Bryce Harper homered twice, walked three times and scored four times Wednesday as the Phillies crushed the Nationals … Max Fried was pulled from Wednesday's start versus the Marlins after one inning due to a left ankle injury … Zach Eflin gave up three runs over eight-plus innings and struck out nine Wednesday in a win over the Nationals … Ke'Bryan Hayes went 2-for-4 and hit his fourth homer Wednesday against the Cubs … Wyatt Mathisen hit his first two major league homers Wednesday to lead to the Diamondbacks to a victory over the Rangers … Carlos Martinez has been diagnosed with a left mid-back strain after exiting Wednesday’s start versus the Royals … Dansby Swanson hit a three-run homer and reached three times in a victory for the Braves over the Marlins on Wednesday … Scott Oberg underwent thoracic outlet surgery on Wednesday … The Rockies placed David Dahl on the 45-day injured list with a right shoulder strain … Kris Bryant (oblique) remained out of the Cubs' lineup on Wednesday but reported improvement.