Sad and shocking news today that Pascual Perez was killed during a home invasion robbery in his native Dominican Republic. Here is a brief tribute to one of the most entertaining players of his (or any other) time.
Perez came up in the Pirates’ organization, getting off to an impressive start in 1981, going 2-0 with 1.38 ERA in his first 3 starts. But, it was all downhill from there, going 0-7, 5.07 the rest of the way. Starting 1982 in the minors, the Pirates dealt Perez to Atlanta in mid-year, where he posted a fine half-season of 123 ERA+ and only 1.9 BB/9. That showing earned Perez a rotation spot in a fine 1983 season that garnered him an All-Star selection in his first year as a full-time regular.
In 1984, his performance started to slide, down to 103 ERA+, although he finished the season on the upside with a 3.00 ERA in August and September. The wheels came off in a dreadful 1985 season of 1-13, 6.14, and the Braves released Perez in the spring of 1986.
Perez was out of baseball entirely in 1986 and then signed on with the Expos for the 1987 season. Perez was a late-August call-up that year and made the most of the opportunity, going 7-0, 2.30 in 10 starts. As a regular the next season, Perez was almost unhittable with a league-leading 0.944 WHIP and 147 ERA+. That slid to 107 ERA+ in 1989, despite leading the NL is SO/BB ratio.
Perez was a free agent after the 1989 season and was picked up by the Yankees. He had a great start to the 1990 season (1.29 ERA, 0.786 WHIP) before suffering a season-ending shoulder injury in his 3rd start. He came back strong in 1991 but was again derailed by injury in his 4th start, when sporting a 1.53 ERA. Perez came back in August that year, going 5-5, 3.70 the rest of the way. That 1991 season would be the last for Perez, as he was suspended for the entire 1992 season for violating MLB’s drug policy.
Perez was known for his eephus pitch, a high-arcing change-up, and for his contortionist-like move of checking runners (and throwing to bases) while peering through his legs. He will also be forever remembered for missing a home start early in his time in Atlanta because he got lost on the I-285 loop highway, doing several full circuits before finally finding his exit to Atlanta Stadium.
Rest in peace, Pascual.