This past Sunday, I sat in the stands of Dodger Stadium surrounded by Dodger faithful who were hyped for their playoff-bound team to take the field. The ballpark had a vibe I have not seen in San Diego for quite some time. While my expectations remained rational for the rebuilding Padres, I was still hopeful that the good guys could steal a win and the series from the best team in baseball. All we needed was a strong outing from Luis Perdomo to slow down the Dodgers’ potent offense.
Strong outings from Luis Perdomo have come in spurts in the 2017 season. He has had a number of decent starts, but has also had a few games where he imploded early – hence his high ERA. Even though Perdomo has struggled for most of the season, there are several reasons for Padre fans to be optimistic about his progression and his future.
Most obvious, Perdomo is only 24 years old and has only been pitching at the major league level since the beginning of last season. Thus, he has plenty of time to reach his full potential. With the Padres eyeing to begin competing in 2019, and more likely in 2020, Perdomo will have two more full seasons to develop – assuming the Padres’ management gives him this opportunity. Additionally, the Padres possess one of the better pitching coaches in the game in Darren Balsley. While his specialty lies in making unknown relievers into all-stars (*cough-cough Brad Hand), it is my hope that he will give more attention to Perdomo moving forward to build on his progression.
Another important aspect of Perdomo to keep an eye on moving forward, which I took notice of during his last outing, was his poise and confidence on the mound. I had never seen Perdomo look so commanding in his short tenure in the bigs. There were even Dodgers fans behind me who pointed out how quickly he was moving between pitches – making for some uncomfortable at-bats. He also mixed in an occasional pause during his windup, something I had not seen from Perdomo in the past. Unfortunately, this poise and confidence deteriorated after the 4th inning in which he gave up a handful of runs. Moving forward, I would love to see Perdomo maintain the same pace he expressed in the first three innings on Sunday despite any trouble he runs into. Again, he is only 24 years old. He is still maturing and has plenty of time to do so.
If we take a closer look at his first three innings against the Dodgers this past Sunday, Perdomo gave us a glimpse of what could be. The Dodgers got some good wood on him eventually, but he breezed through the first three innings in ‘perfect’ fashion. I do not personally believe in jinxes (a very unpopular baseball opinion). As Perdomo retired the first nine batters he faced, I leaned over to tell my dad that Perdomo was “18 away” from perfection. The very next inning, Perdomo hit a batter, gave up a base knock, and Justin Turner took him deep for a three-run shot. Perdomo subsequently surrendered five runs to the Dodgers in the 4th inning and finished the 5th and 6th unscathed. For the record, I still do not believe in jinxes, but Perdomo clearly lost his swagger in the 4th inning. If you broadly breakdown Perdomo’s last start against the best team in the league, he made two bad pitches that cost him five runs. Thus, it is imperative that we zero in on the positives throughout his development.
Although there is reason to be excited for Perdomo’s future, I do not envision him as anything more than a back of the rotation starter. I would love to see him prove me wrong, but there is one part of his game that he desperately needs to improve – pitching with runners on base. As I witnessed on Sunday, Perdomo was rolling, until he hit a batter and had to transition from the wind-up to the stretch. Looking at the splits, Perdomo has an alarming ERA of 22.31 with runners on base. In the 57 and one-third innings he has pitched with the bases empty, Perdomo has posted a 0.94 ERA. For comparison, Max Scherzer has a 1.30 ERA in 104 innings this year with the bases empty. Thus, if Perdomo can find a way to contain innings where a lead-off man reaches base and when he finds himself in jams, Perdomo can significantly improve some of his misleading statistics.
Again, I would like to reiterate that, while I do not see ‘star’ potential from Perdomo, I do see him as being a solid three, four, or five guy in the rotation with durability. He has another tough task this Friday as he faces off against Scherzer and the Nats, which I will also be attending. While Harper will be absent from the Nats’ lineup, it will still be a great test for the young Perdomo. Be on the lookout for a follow-up piece depending on how Perdomo performs.