Split Decisions: Future Closers
Comparing Perez and Scherzer
As part of our 19th annual Top 100 Prospects list, we present Split Decisions, where our prospect experts explain why they favored certain players over others. Editors in chief Will Lingo and John Manuel, executive editor Jim Callis and national writer Chris Kline put together the Top 100 and defend their thinking. Here's a look at a pair of likely future closers: Max Scherzer and Chris Perez.
Scherzer's massive head jerk in his delivery scares me to death and makes me wonder how long he'll hold up. But there are no guarantees with any pitcher, and he has better stuff than Perez does. That said, Perez is underrated as a closer prospect.
You guys can talk about the head jerk and injury concerns all you want—the guy was throwing in the upper 90s out of the bullpen consistently in the Arizona Fall League with a plus slider at times. Perez is the safe pick, but St. Louis has a bunch of different options in the pen. I'll take the guy who throws 98 and can spin it.
You have one guy who has been groomed to be a closer for years (Perez) against another who we're still not sure will end up in the role (Scherzer). I think they're both going to be successful in the big leagues, and I ranked Scherzer higher because of his bigger raw stuff, but I ranked Perez higher than anyone else because he has a great fastball/slider combo too and has the stones for the closer role, so I don't see a whole lot of separation between the two.
Scherzer's stuff earns him the edge for me, but he's never closed games that matter. Perez did at Miami and has in the minors, and I don't think he'd be fazed by failure in the majors. I just wish he threw more strikes, or I'd rank him higher.