Say, where’s Perry? Not in a good place right now
Ryan Perry tried his best to find his old form this week. He shaved off the hair he had grown out since last offseason to return to the short-haired look he had as a rookie and a collegian. He put in one bullpen session after another to lower his arm angle and get the sinking action he had on his fastball two years ago.
The result Thursday in his first game since the adjustments — four outs, four hits, four runs and a walk — was more frustration for him, and more searching for the Tigers.
“I just don’t think his command’s real good right now,” manager Jim Leyland said after the game. “He’s really struggling. My heart aches for him.”
It’s a real problem for the Tigers. Much like Joaquin Benoit and the eighth inning, the Tigers need an effective Perry to help provide some order to the bullpen in the seventh. He has the best combination of experience and stuff of the guys they have in middle relief, with the potential for more. Alberto Alburquerque and Daniel Schlereth can cover the seventh, but they’re also going to have their growing pains, as they’ve shown.
Problem is, Perry is a third-year pro at age 22, and he’s having serious growing pains, too.
“It’s extremely frustrating,” he said. “I’ve never really dealt with this my whole life, so to do it at this level, it’s tough. But you have to push it out of your head and come out tomorrow and be ready to work.”
He looked like he was searching for the right arm slot from one batter to the next Thursday. When he had it right, he made some nasty pitches with good velocity. When he was off, his pitches flattened out.
“Same old stuff, just really not feeling comfortable in my delivery and my mechanics right now,” Perry said. “I think that’s just a big factor playing in my head right now.”
The question the Tigers have to answer in a hurry is whether he can get those questions out of his head and fix his mechanics in Detroit, like the more experienced Benoit did, or whether it’s going to take a trip to Toledo. If the latter is the answer, they might have to take the loss of depth as an investment in his future.
The Tigers have a couple roster moves looming, with Andy Oliver coming up for his start Saturday and Brad Thomas due back from the disabled list at some point. Those moves will likely say plenty about how the Tigers see Perry learning and correcting.