Editor's note: Daniel did well with this and I failed to green light it - read on and see why Williams is shutting down our Tampa Bay Rays.
Three days before the beginning of the 2015 season, the Atlanta Braves named Eric Stults the fifth pitcher of it's starting rotation. The 35-year-old southpaw performed well in Spring Training (1.89 ERA in 19 innings), barely besting Wandy Rodriguez for the final starting job. Following the decision, Rodriguez was released by the Braves only to be signed to a minor league contract three days later by the Texas Rangers.
After starting the season with the Round Rock Express in Triple-A, Rodriguez was called up to the big leagues on April 24. In his five starts this season, the 36-year-old veteran has posted a serviceable 3.86 FIP in 28 innings while striking out 24 batters.
Stults, meanwhile, has pitched terribly as the Braves have been faced with the uncomfortable realization that they made the wrong decision. In his seven starts of the 2015 season, Stults has allowed 24 earned runs in 40.1 innings. The nine home runs he has surrendered has contributed to his 5.40 FIP.
His last start against the Cincinnati Reds on May 13, in which he gave up five earned runs in five innings (his third consecutive game surrendering two home runs), appears to have been the final straw.
The Braves have stripped Stults of his starting role, and newcomer Williams Perez assumes the role as the Braves' fifth starter. He will make his first major league start tonight against the Tampa Bay Rays at Turner Field.
After winning the first game of the two-game set on Tuesday night, the Rays send Jake Odorizzi to the mound as they look for their third straight victory. A win tonight, coupled with a New York Yankees' loss, would put the team in sole possession of first place.
It's never too early to watch the scoreboard.
Rays, @JakeOdorizzi wrap up the road trip tonight on @SunSportsRays, @620wdae & @MLBTV. #RaysUp pic.twitter.com/8rGtwF0Giu— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) May 20, 2015
Today's lineup as Williams Perez makes his first career start: pic.twitter.com/BPB4WtQ8Fi— Atlanta Braves (@Braves) May 20, 2015
The Book on Williams Perez
Williams Perez had the unfortunate experience of facing the heart of the Washington Nationals' lineup in his major league debut. In the May 8 matchup between the Braves and the Nationals, Perez entered the game in the eighth innings with no outs and nobody on.
After allowing a four pitch walk to Yunel Escobar and a single to Jayson Werth, Bryce Harper welcomed the 23-year-old to the big leagues in grandiose fashion:
The 412-foot blast was Harper's second home run of the game, his fifth in his last two. Perez gave up one more run and recorded only one out before being pulled from the game. As a young boy, Perez probably didn't dream that his major league debut would unfold like that.
His next appearance, however, went much better as Perez didn't allow a run in two innings of relief work against the Reds on May 13.
The 23-year-old Venezuelan native was signed by the Braves as a 17-year-old in 2009. Last season in Double-A, Perez pitched well posting a 3.29 FIP in 133 innings as a starting pitcher. Perez began the 2015 season in Triple-A and in five starts he posted a 3.13 FIP, warranting his callup to the Braves' bullpen on May 6.
With the dismal performance of Eric Stults, Perez was named the Braves' fifth starter on Sunday and he will make his first career start tonight.
Perez's arsenal consists of four pitches. He is capable of throwing a four seam and two seam fastball in the low 90s, though he's leaned on the sinker in his two relief appearances, as well as a curveball in the mid 70s, and a change in the low 80s, giving him 12 mph separation from the fastball.