On July 27th, 2010, the Milwaukee Brewers faced off against the Cincinnati Reds at Miller Park. Yovani Gallardo got the start for the home team, and it wasn’t a good one. Gallardo threw 70 pitches across 2.7 innings, allowing 10 hits and six runs to come across the plate (though Yo did clobber a two-run homer of his own off Edinson Volquez). Chris Capuano would allow another four earned runs while pitching in long relief and by the time the 9th inning rolled around, the Brewers were down by a score of 12-4.
Milwaukee manager Ken Macha sent out utilityman Joe Inglett to pitch the his team’s final frame. Inglett was the ultimate bench player for the Brewers that season; he appeared in 102 games, seeing time in both the infield and outfield, yet accrued only 160 plate appearances while posting a nifty .266 TAv. But on this day, Inglett was a hurler. He tossed six pitches, five of which were strikes, while retiring the top of the Reds’ lineup in order: Brandon Phillips, Orlando Cabrera, and Joey Votto went down 1-2-3 during Inglett’s perfect frame. His knuckleball sat between 52-56 MPH and was described by Brooks Baseball as “below hitting speed.” It would be the only pitching appearance of a solid journeyman’s career, with Inglett seeing time in parts of six big league seasons while accruing a .261 TAv and 2.3 WARP across 333 games.
Seven years to the day after Inglett’s masterful performance against the Reds, the Milwaukee Nine found themselves stuck in another laugher, this time in our nation’s capitol. Michael Blazek tied a record of futility in serving up six gopher balls during his 2.3 innings of work and Wily Peralta was only another gas can fueling the fire, coughing up eight runs while recording just five outs. Speculation quickly began spreading on Twitter – “which position player might we see pitch this game?” Of course, if one has followed the Milwaukee Brewers for the past two seasons, they would know there was only one possible answer to that question:
Hernan Perez. The answer to "Which Brewer will…" is always Hernan Perez.
— Adam McCalvy (@AdamMcCalvy) July 27, 2017
Before the bottom of the 8th inning, Swiss Army Knife Hernan Perez turned to FSWisconsin’s dugout reporter, Sophia Minnaert, and asked “are you ready?” Perez, who had played seven different positions while a member of the Brewers, strode to the mound at Nationals’ Park to make his debut at his eighth position. The bottom of the order was set to lead off the inning.
What is Hernan’s Value?
Already in his first at-bat, Perez showed more of a feel for the mound than Inglett had all those years before. Hernan’s first pitch as a professional was a 76 MPH “changeup” that painted the black on the inside part of the plate to switch-hitting Jose Lobaton for a called strike one. Perez would face five batters during what ended up being a scoreless frame, allowing a walk to Brian Goodwin and a single to Andrew Stephenson, who will be able to tell his children someday that he recorded his first hit in the MLB off of a position player.
Hammerin’ Hernan threw only seven of his 17 pitches for strikes, but working from varied arm slots and a hesitation in his delivery kept the Nationals’ hitters off balance. Perez was unable to record any swinging strikes during his outing, but the five Nationals’ hitters he faced also failed to register any “hard contact” against him (according to Fangraphs’ data). It’s been said that the one of the most important things a pitcher can do is change speeds on the mound, and Hernan did so beautifully: his hardest fastball registered at 83 MPH, while his slowest “curveball” fluttered across the plate at a Greinke-esque 61 MPH.
— Tigreros Oficiales (@tigrerosoficial) July 28, 2017
Slingin’ David Stearns and his front office staff continue to monitor and be involved in the trade market for arms. The club has already acquired Anthony Swarzak from the White Sox and has been linked to Addison Reed, Justin Wilson, and Sonny Gray, among others. If the team doesn’t wind up making another addition before Monday’s trade deadline, however, Hernan Perez had about as good an audition as he could’ve hoped for if he’s willing to throw some innings for this team during the stretch run as the team chases a playoff berth. At this point, is he really that much worse of a middle-relief option than, say Peralta or Carlos Torres?