Braves pitcher Williams Perez was optioned to Triple-A Gwinnett on Saturday, a day after things went from bad to worse for the rookie right-hander.
Perez was charged with eight runs, five hits and three walks in just 1 2/3 innings of Friday’s 15-4 loss to the Yankees, giving him an 0-5 record with a 9.87 ERA and .336 opponents’ average in six starts since returning from the disabled list.
Rookie reliever Jake Brigham was recalled from Gwinnett to take Perez’s roster spot and provide some more bullpen depth.
Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said he didn’t know who would take Perez’s next scheduled turn in the rotation Wednesday, but said it might be former starter Edwin Jackson in a “bullpen” game using multiple relievers, with Jackson pitching the first two or three innings and a bunch of relievers pitching the rest of the game. The Braves will likely add an arm or two from the minor leagues Tuesday, when major league rosters can be expanded for the rest of the regular season.
Jackson was used by the Cubs strictly as a reliever this season before they released him in July, and the last time he threw more than 35 pitches was June 9, when he totaled 59 pitches in 3 2/3 innings – both season highs – in a relief appearance against Washington. Before Saturday, Jackson had a 4.91 ERA in six appearances since signing with the Braves, and he allowed five hits, four runs and three home runs in three innings over his past three appearances.
Left-hander Ross Detwiler, another former starter, would also be an option to start Wednesday.
Gonzalez said Perez would make his next start for Gwinnett Thursday and added that would be brought back up with the Braves at some point in September, as long as he doesn’t pitch poorly at Gwinnett.
Before his five-week stint on the DL for a foot contusion, Perez was 4-0 with a 2.88 ERA in the first 11 games (eight starts) of his major league career. In the last 10 of those appearances before the DL stint, Perez had a 2.17 ERA and .239 opponents’ average, allowing three homers and 21 walks with 38 strikeouts in 49 2/3 innings.
In his six starts since returning from the DL, he got knocked around for 43 hits, 34 earned runs, five homers and more walks (19) than strikeouts (14) in 31 innings.
In each of his two innings Friday, Perez retired the first two batters, then saw the inning unravel in flurries of hits and walks. Gonzalez was asked after the game if he thought Perez was perhaps showing signs of fatigue after his layoff.
“You would think it would be the other way, he would be strong after missing a month,” Gonzalez said. “No, I think it’s just a matter of, it’s just a young pitcher we’re running out there.”
Perez was asked after Friday’s game if he was still trying to get back into shape or into the pitching form he had before his DL stint.
“I don’t know,” he said. “I don’t know what happened. I’m trying to figure it out, trying to get better for my next start.”
That start will now come in Triple-A, not the majors.
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