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Marlins option rookie phenom Eury Perez back to the Minors

Perez, the Majors’ youngest player, has been sensational over the first 11 starts of his career, but the Marlins are sending him back to Double-A in order to limit his workload.

Pitcher Eury Perez of the Miami Marlins looks on against the St. Louis Cardinals in the fourth inning at loanDepot park on July 6, 2023 in Miami, Florida. Photo by Sam Navarro/Getty Images

The brightest young pitcher in baseball is being sent down to the Minors after a historically great start to his MLB career — and no, that’s not a typo. Miami Marlins phenom Eury Perez, who’s set the league on fire over his first 11 starts after getting called up earlier this year as the youngest player in the Majors, was optioned back to the Minor Leagues on Friday afternoon:

If you’re wondering how in the world that makes sense, especially for a team in the thick of the NL Wild Card race, we can explain. Perez, who just turned 20 on April 15, made his stateside debut in 2021 and almost immediately established himself as one of the best pitching prospects in baseball. The 6’8 righty tore through A-ball and Double-A last season, then was so impressive to start 2023 that he made the leap straight from Double-A to the Show back in May — and did so without missing a beat. He’s been nothing short of sensational as a big leaguer, posting a 2.36 ERA with 61 strikeouts over 53.1 innings pitched.

That meteoric rise has created a bit of a conundrum for Miami. Entering play Friday in control of the first NL Wild Card spot at 51-38, the Marlins would obviously love to hand Perez the ball every fifth day from here on out. But there’s the rub: Prior to 2023, Perez had never thrown more than 78 innings in a season, and he’s already blown past that number before the All-Star break. If the team let its star rookie remain in the rotation for the rest of the season, he’d be on pace to just about double his career high, and Miami is understandably concerned about the stress that leap in workload would put on his arm — especially considering that Perez missed time in 2022 due to shoulder fatigue.

As Perez racked up dominant start after dominant start, both he and the team always knew a shutdown (or at least a slowdown) would be inevitable; it was just a matter of when, and for how long. So one of the very best pitchers in the game will be sitting at Double-A Pensacola for the foreseeable future, while the Marlins have yet to announce anything regarding how long they plan on keeping Perez in the Minors.

Miami isn’t desperate for starting pitching right now, with Sandy Alcantara, Jesus Luzardo and Braxton Garrett all throwing well and Edward Cabrera and Johnny Cueto nearing returns from the IL. Still, none of those guys — not even Alcantara, who’s struggled a bit this season — is Perez, and it will be a delicate dance for Miami to remain competitive in the NL while also trying to keep the future of its rotation healthy.