Tonight’s NLCS Game 7 pitching matchup between Oliver Perez and Jeff Suppan seems like a weird matchup. I don’t think Perez is anyone’s idea of a Game 7 starter.
I read about the decision to pitch Perez this game, and immediately thought of Perez’s last team, the Pittsburgh Pirates. In that organization, Perez has always struggled (but then, most pitchers struggle there for some reason). As most of the pitchers I’ve seen have done in the past 10 years, Perez was touted as a huge prospect, and then proceeded to not do much of anything. The Pirates were only happy to have the Mets take him off their hands.
Now, the Mets are pitching him in Game 7. They really don’t have a good choice here. The only person who can be happy with this situation is Perez, who gets the chance to prove on a national sports stage what he is made of. If he pitches a great game, and advances the Mets to the World Series, he will always be remembered as the worst Game 7 pitcher to win. That is the stuff that legends are made of. If he wins, no matter what happens afterwards, he will be remembered as someone making the most of their opprotunity once thrust on the stage.
If he loses, he really has nothing to lose either. He won’t be blamed, since no one thought they would be counting on him at this stage. Mets fans will blame the injuries that caused them to resort to starting the 3-13 Perez twich in the NLCS. Sure, he won’t be remembered, but he won’t be the goat, either. Unless, of course, he does something worse than put out the losing pitching effort, such as botch an easily catchable out, or hit a batter with the bases loaded to force home the go ahead run. In other words, he’d have to do something besides lose the game in order to be remembered in a negative light.
I can’t imagine that Oliver Perez thought he’d be pitching in Game 7 a month ago, or even a week ago. What a change for him, considering where he was at the beginning of this season.
UPDATE (James Joyner): Rob Neyer dubs Perez “the worst — Game 7 starter ever.” More precisely, “He has the worst regular-season ERA of a pitcher to start a Game 7.”
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