Sunday, August 12, 2012

Ryan Howard Fears Oliver Perez

I know this is a site for Mets fans.  I also know Ryan Howard is a Phillie and Oliver Perez still gives Mets fans nightmares even though he is a continent away in Seattle.  But I needed a distraction from last night's debacle, when Johan Santana went from being No-Han to retiring No One (give or take four batters).  So today I'm focusing on a little tidbit I found in the Sunday New York Times.

In Joe Brescia's weekly "30 Seconds..." piece, he interviewed Ryan Howard, asking him various questions about his health, his performance on the field and the state of the Phillies.  (In case you hadn't noticed, the sellout streak is over at Citizens Bank Park.  Phillies fans will tell you they're just getting ready for the Eagles' upcoming season, but methinks the NL East standings have something to do with the dearly departed streak.)

One question at the end of the interview caught my eye.  The Phillies' slugger was asked which pitcher was the toughest he ever faced.  His answer was Oliver Perez.

Before you chuckle at Ryan Howard's inability to hit a pitcher who allowed everyone and their mothers to reach base during the latter half of his tenure in New York, take a look at how Perez has fared against the Subway sandwich shill.

In 25 career at-bats against Perez, Howard has collected only three hits, batting .120 against the former Mets left-handed pariah ... I mean, pitcher.  Perez has had no trouble finding the plate against Howard, walking him twice while striking him out 14 times.  That's 14 times in 25 official at-bats.  Even Jason Bay doesn't strike out that often.

Of course, this season Howard must think he's facing Oliver Perez every time he comes to the plate.  In 100 at-bats following his return from the painful groundout that wiped out the Phillies' 2011 campaign and the first three months of his 2012 season, Howard has struck out 40 times while drawing only ten walks.  He also sees the dinner plate more than he does home plate, as Howard has scored ten runs, seven of which came when he drove himself in by hitting the ball out of the yard.

Meanwhile, Oliver Perez has taken what he learned from facing Ryan Howard and has become a serviceable reliever in Seattle.  In 20 games for the Mariners, Perez has a low 2.00 ERA in 18 innings, striking out 18 and walking only five.  Compare that to what El Perez-idente did in 2009 for the Mets, when he made 14 starts and walked at least five in half of those starts.

Ryan Howard is a large hulk of a man.  Pitchers should be afraid of him, not the other way around.  But Howard fears Oliver Perez the way Mets fans feared the bullpen phone ringing whenever Perez was warming up.  It just goes to show that you can't script baseball, especially if Ryan Howard and Oliver Perez are two of your main characters.

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