Perez was walking a lot of batters and struggling to make it through 5 innings on 80 or so pitches on average, but we saw the talent and potential and asked the question: Is Eury Perez starting to figure it out?
If Wednesday night in Seattle is any indication, the answer is an unequivocal "Yes".
Perez fired six shutout, two-hit innings covering 93 pitches, striking out six and walking one single batter of the 21 he faced, hitting 99.6 on the radar gun and averaging 97.8 MPH on his four-seamer, 0.4 MPH over his season average.
Perez fired 41 of those four-seamers, along with 25 sliders, 18 changeups and 9 curves, which for the season is a downtick on the four-seamers and slight upticks for the sliders and curves.
That makes sense, because at least to this point, despite the fastball being in the 94th percentile in velocity and 99th percentile in spin, it's largely the only one of Perez's pitches that have been hittable.
Opponents are batting .283 off the four-seamer (47% of pitches), including all 4 home runs Perez has surrendered, but only .158 off the slider (25%), .050 off his curve (17%) and .000 on the changeup (12%).
But the biggest change was the use of the changeup, with the 18 Perez threw against the Mariners accounting for 19% of his pitches when on the season the change has only been used 12% of the time, as noted above.
Just how good is Perez's changeup?
That's how good it can be.
Obviously, pitch selection depends on a variety of factors which can change game to game, inning to inning, or even batter to batter, but when opponents are slugging .617 off the four-seam fastball, you may want to try something else if presented with an opportunity.
Wednesday night, also marked the first time Perez went into and completed the sixth inning, and season-high in pitches (93) and strike percentage (69).
On top of all that, Perez walked the first batter of the game, but that was the only free pass he gave to the 21 batters he faced.
Simply put, Perez took it to the next level as evidenced, at least in part, by the Pitching Ninja himself bestowing the blessing below.
When your name is in front of Cole, Verlander and Valdez, you're doing something right.
Obviously, with only 35 Major League innings under his belt there is much work to do, but we can already see improvements across Perez's 7 starts.
Providing your team 6 innings consistently can make all the difference in winning and losing, especially if your team doesn't score a lot of runs and/or your bullpen is thin or generally ineffective.
For now, that should be the goal, six strong on a consistent basis, perhaps 7 if the pitch count allows.
If Perez can stay healthy and consistently replicate Wednesday's results, the Marlins have a future ace on their hands.