For Chris Perez, it's back to the drawing board to fix delivery issues

SAN FRANCISCO – In recording a perfect inning in the eighth of a blowout victory Friday night at AT&T Park, Dodgers right-hander Chris Perez threw 16 pitches.

He estimated 13 of them included the type of delivery he is striving to replicate every time he throws. Three nights before in Pittsburgh, though, Perez threw 25 pitches and only felt right a couple times.

Not coincidentally, he totally imploded and issued four straight walks in the Pittsburgh game. But Perez remains confident in the mechanical adjustments he and pitching coach Rick Honeycutt have made in recent weeks.

“If you take away that one outing in Pittsburgh, the last two weeks have been pretty good,” Perez said Saturday. “We figured out what caused that one outing. If it happens again, hopefully I can make the adjustment pitch to pitch, not five hitters later.”

Perez said he has made around a dozen mechanical adjustments to his delivery at various points this season, a trying one for the 29-year-old right-hander who signed an incentive-laden deal with the Dodgers in December.

“One leads to another,” he said.

The latest one, made the afternoon after the hellish outing, involves Perez staying “six or so inches” more upright.

“That lets my foot turn more towards the plate,” he said. “If I bend over, my foot lands and I’m pointed more towards the batter’s box.”

Perez has a 5.06 ERA in 371/3 innings this season, a run and a half worse than his career mark. But he struggled in his final year in Cleveland in 2013, posting a 4.33 ERA in 54 innings and losing his closer’s role.

He felt off mechanically then, too, but spent little time tinkering.

“For whatever reason our pitching coaches couldn’t identify it, or didn’t want to, or nothing,” Perez said. “They just kind of let me figure it out. This has been about a good year and a half of creating bad habits.”

The Dodgers approached him in spring training about making some changes. Perez said he requested they give him time to work his old way, and they did, and he kept recording scoreless performances until early May.

“I was going good, so they didn’t say a word,” he said.

But he started going bad fast, and by May 22 in New York, he had a 5.68 ERA. That’s when the changes came.

The struggles of Perez and other veteran relievers have led to the expectation that the Dodgers will seek out additional relief help before Thursday’s trading deadline. But Manager Don Mattingly insisted Saturday that he believes his bullpen, as structured, is capable of performing at an elite level.

“We haven’t pitched to our best yet,” Perez said. “But I think we definitely have the experience. Me, Paul (Maholm) and Jamey (Wright) just need to get a little more consistent.”

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