The Opener: Perez, Scherzer, Franco


As the 2023 regular season continues, here are three things we’ll be keeping an eye on around the baseball world throughout the day today:

1. Perez to make MLB debut:

Top pitching prospect Eury Perez is poised to make his MLB debut in a start for the Marlins this evening against the Reds. A consensus top 15 prospect in all of baseball, Perez is getting called up directly from the Double-A level without any Triple-A experience. Despite his atypical path to the majors, Perez has certainly justified his shot in the majors. The 20-year-old right-hander has posted a strikeout rate above 30% at every stop on his journey through the minor leagues, with walk rates under 10% and a career minor league ERA of just 2.85. That includes a hot start to the 2023 season where Perez has dominated Double-A pitching to the tune of 2.32 ERA in 31 innings of work across six starts.

In Miami, Perez joins an excellent Marlins rotation that features reigning NL Cy Young aware winner Sandy Alcantara along with Jesus Luzardo, Edward Cabrera, and Braxton Garrett. Perez is not yet on the 40-man roster, meaning the Marlins will have to clear space for their top prospect before he can be added to the active roster to make tonight’s start.

2. Scherzer to return to the mound:

Future Hall of Famer Max Scherzer was scratched from his start with the Mets earlier this week due to neck spasms. The news that Scherzer isn’t fully healthy came as little surprise considering his significant struggles to open the 2023 campaign. Through five starts this season, Scherzer has managed just 22 2/3 innings with a 5.56 ERA and an even uglier 6.31 FIP. A strikeout rate of just 20.8% combined with a 10.4% walk rate help to explain the uncharacteristic struggles Scherzer has dealt with to open the season, as those numbers are a far cry from the 31.8% strikeout rate and 5.8% walk rate he’s sported throughout the last decade of his illustrious career.

A healthy and effective Scherzer would be a game changer for the Mets, who rank in the bottom 10 of the league with a 4.73 ERA as a team and sport a record of just 18-20 so far this season after losing Carlos Carrasco and Jose Quintana to injury early in the season. The veteran righty will look to get his season back on track against the Nationals on Sunday.

3. Franco to be reevaluated:

Rays fans suffered a scared yesterday evening when star shortstop Wander Franco exited the club’s 8-2 victory with neck tightness. Though the plan is for the 22-year-old phenom to be reevaluated today, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times notes that both Franco himself and Rays manager Kevin Cash have expressed optimism that Franco could return to action as soon as today, indicating that the issue is likely a minor one.

Any missed time on Franco’s part would be devastating for the Rays, as Franco has been the very best player in all of baseball in terms of fWAR so far this year, as his 2.4 figure leads the majors. In 163 plate appearances this season, Franco has slashed a phenomenal .318/.374/.554 with 12 stolen bases while playing elite defense at shortstop. While defensive metrics are fluky on a season-to-season basis, it’s nonetheless worth noting that just four players have bested Franco’s +5 Outs Above Average so far this season.

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