In late August, Cleveland Indians reliever Oliver Perez entered a game in the sixth inning to face a left-handed hitter. It was his 55th appearance of the year, and with that his option for 2020 vested: Perez will be paid $3 million next season to face lefties.
It’s fortunate for Perez that the deal was signed when it was, late last January. Two weeks later, ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported that in 2020, Major League Baseball would likely require pitchers to face three batters, or get the final out of an inning, before they could be removed.
Perez had 22 outings in 2019 that would be illegal under these new rules — let’s call them Ollies, after Perez — which was the most of any pitcher in baseball. Without those Ollies, his 2020 option might never have vested. And without those outings going forward, his actual value to a modern bullpen becomes much more speculative.
This makes Perez perhaps the clearest victim of the new rule, along with a few lefty-specialist contemporaries: Andrew Chafin, who had 19 Ollies, after leading…