The Brewers fell to the mighty Chicago Cubs, 6-3, Tuesday night, but it was not at the fault of their starting pitcher, the rookie Wily
Peralta baffled Cubs hitters through six and two-thirds innings, striking out five. He surrendered two earned runs after exiting the game in the seventh after throwing only 94 pitches when noted LOOGy Michael Gonzalez came in to face left-hander Anthony Rizzo of the Cubs and threw three pitches: two erratic balls and a flat slider that fell for a two-run double.
Arguably, it was the best start of the season for any Brewers pitcher, even with the trouble Peralta fell into in the seventh. Why? Let’s take a glance.
Command & Delivery
Peralta didn’t fall into any trouble getting behind batters, throwing 18 of 29 first-pitch strikes. He walked Rizzo twice (the only two free passes issued), but was missing low and, for the most part, it was a case of Rizzo not chasing close pitches.
On a cold night, Peralta relied primarily on his fastball (we’ll touch on this later), which he attacked batters with. He commanded the inner half all night. He made three to four “mistake” pitches, though none were completely awful, and only one of which was turned around for a base hit.
Peralta’s large frame isn’t the only reason for his exceptional velocity. He works out of a three-quarter arm slot and puts his whole body into each pitch. That, mixed with an effective, heavy two-seamer, created a 6:1 GB/FB rate on Tuesday.
With the temperatures so cold that the Ninja Brewers came out at Wrigley, Peralta kept the fastball buzzing. He opened up around 92-93 mph, topping out at 94 in the first inning. From the second inning forward, he lived between 93-96, not losing any of the velocity as the game went deeper.
The two-seam/sinker was Peralta’s best pitch on Tuesday. It was the main inducer of those 12 grounders and Yuniesky Betancourt’s 12 related nightmares after the game. Usually buzzing in around 95 mph, batters never got full extension on it. In the second inning, he threw four consecutive two-seamers to Nate Schierholtz–all strikes–and got the fourth one in on Schierholtz’s hands that led to a lazy fly ball.
Over 29 innings last season, Peralta threw fastballs just over 70 percent of the time. Last night, 37 of his first 40 pitches (93%) were heaters.
The movement on both Peralta’s two-seam and four-seam was incredible. The two-seam tailed in and dove right at the hands of right handers. It was heavy and effective.
In full counts, Peralta went to the two-seamer most of the time. Missed close on a 3-2 offering to Rizzo, but froze Brent Lillbridge on a 96 mph pitch that painted the black. Got into trouble when he left the four-seam over the middle to outer half of the plate.
The off speed arsenal includes a diving slider and a changeup.
Possibly due to the cold, Peralta’s use of the change was limited, but effective. He didn’t throw one until the second time through the order, and it wasn’t put in play until Schierholtz was way out in front of one, grounding out to third to start the fourth.
Peralta’s slider wasn’t as sharp as we’ve seen, but didn’t get him into big trouble. Kept it down in the zone and starting mixing it in more
in the fourth and fifth innings. In the seventh, nearly 33% of his pitches were sliders. Stayed in the mid-80′s, a good drop off from the hard fastball he was featuring.
Possibly his best at-bat of the day came against Wellington Castillo in the second. He touched 96 on three consecutive fastballs before putting Castillo away with a slider just out of the zone that drew a weak, protective swing and a miss.
After getting ahead with the fastball, Peralta could go to work with the slider.
Wily Peralta deserved a win on Tuesday night. His defense turned a would-be double play grounder into an error that put runners on second and third, which led to an unearned run scoring on a weak grounder. He didn’t get the chance to finish the seventh, as Gonzalez determined that Peralta would get a no-decision for the night. Had a good feel for the game and pitch sequencing. Worked the two-seam in on right handers effectively.
Overall Grade: B+