Rangers' Perez pitches for a job against Mariners

September 23, 2018

Texas left-hander Martin Perez will have two more chances to help the Rangers decide his future with the team, beginning Sunday when he starts against the Seattle Mariners in the final game of the season at Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas.

Seattle will send left-hander Wade LeBlanc (8-4, 3.49 ERA) to the mound in search of the series win to counter Perez (2-6, 6.33 ERA).

The Mariners rolled to a 13-0 win over the Rangers on Saturday behind home runs from Robinson Cano, Mike Zunino and Dee Gordon and six innings of one-hit pitching from Marco Gonzales.

Perez, who has made his past six appearances out of the bullpen, will also start next Saturday in Seattle. His most recent start was Aug. 25 against the San Francisco Giants.

After that start, Texas told Perez that it was unlikely to pick up his option for next season. But with a manager change in Arlington and the Rangers' acknowledged dearth of starting pitching, Perez will be given a puncher's chance to change the team's mind.

"I can't think about that," Perez said. "Just go out there and do my job, let everybody know I am healthy. Throw strikes, pitch like a reliever, how I threw the last three or four outings. Attack, that's the key."

Perez has a 2.45 ERA since moving to the bullpen at the end of August.

"Just because I've had a bad year doesn't mean I can't be a starter," Perez said. "It means they still believe in me. I think they know what I can do. I know what I can do."

Perez has been a starter for most of his career and is still determined to fill that role, whether the Rangers pick up his option or he moves on to another organization.

Meanwhile, Seattle left-hander James Paxton worked through the rain on Friday afternoon to finish a 40-pitch bullpen session that helped him show he was ready to return to the rotation after suffering a case of pneumonia.

Paxton is set to start Monday in Seattle against Oakland as the Mariners open their season-ending seven-game homestand.

"He got through it," Servais told MLB.com about Paxton's bullpen session. "He did say he got a little fatigued toward the end of it, but he's pushing through it. He wants to make that start when we get back home."

LeBlanc is set to make his 26th start of the season on Sunday against Texas. He had a no-decision in his last start, a 4-1 Mariners win at Houston on Monday in which he allowed one run in 5 1/3 innings.

That run was the first he surrendered in 24 1/3 innings after going 19 innings between Aug. 25 and Sept. 12 without giving up a run, the longest scoreless innings streak among Mariners starters this season.

Sunday's start will be LeBlanc's fourth career appearance and third start against Texas. He is 1-0 with a 1.93 ERA against the Rangers. Seattle is 16-9 in LeBlanc's starts this year.

Perez has made 13 starts this season. He has gone 2-6 with a 6.95 ERA in those starts but is 0-3 with a 5.63 ERA in last eight.

Perez is 7-4 with a 3.30 ERA in 19 games, 17 of them starts, in his career versus Seattle, marking his highest win percentage against any AL West opponent.