Ryan Perry's conversion from reliever to starter has gone well thus far, but it's still unclear what his future role with the Nationals may be. (Image Credit: Brad Mills-US PRESSWIRE)

Ryan Perry's Conversion to Starting


Back in mid-June the Washington Nationals elected to experiment a little with right-hander Ryan Perry. The organization demoted the hard throwing reliever from Triple-A Syracuse to Double-A Harrisburg, but the move had little to do with his performance on the mound but rather it was done in an effort to see how Perry fared working as a starter. It was a move that went largely under the radar at the time.

Through 12 starts, Perry’s seen some generally impressive results. He holds a 2-4 record and 2.82 ERA over 67.0 innings of work since making the transition. He’s seen a dip in his strikeout rate (down to 5.4 K/9) but has also been walking fewer batters (2.6 BB/9) and allowing fewer hits (7.3 H/9), resulting in a 1.090 WHIP. Recently he threw a complete game against the Erie Sea Wolves, Detroit’s Double-A affiliate, in which he allowed just one run on eight hits.

What lies ahead for Perry remains unclear. Since being taken by the Tigers in the 1st Round of the 2008 Draft (#21 overall) he’s spent his entire career working out of the bullpen. He’s 6-6 with a 4.36 ERA in his career, spanning 169.1 innings of work over 156 appearances. Perry’s always been able to reach the upper 90s with his fastball, but has otherwise failed to meet much of the potential since beginning his career and reaching the Majors just a year removed from the Draft. But it’s that potential that has continued to earn him opportunities.

Washington acquired Perry late this past December, in a trade that sent right-hander Collin Balester to Detroit. Balester struggled with the Tigers through 11 appearances early on this season and was ultimately designated for assignment in mid-May. He’s been pitching for the Tigers’ Triple-A team since.

One thing is certain with regards to the 25 year old Perry, Washington is going to need to make some decisions on his future sooner rather than later. He’s a likely candidate to be called up in September, though it’s unlikely he’ll be called upon to start any games down the stretch. Perry will be out of options next Spring, meaning he’ll need to stick with the Major League club or the organization will risk losing him for nothing via waivers.

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