If I tell you that the Brewers have a pitcher with a heavy mid-90s fastball, a solid breaking ball and produced an above average ground ball rates, you’d think they would have a top of the rotation type pitcher. That pitcher, however, is none other than Wily Peralta, who produced a whopping 1.0 WAR in 2013.
I’m not here to be pessimistic about Peralta, he’s my favorite pitcher to watch in the Brewers rotation. Every start I keep waiting for it to finally click, for that plus-plus fastball to get harnessed into consistent strikes, and his slider to establish itself as a true swing and miss pitch. If he could combine his 70 fastball with a 55 or 60 slider (on the 20-80 scouting scale), he could be a plus arm without improving his mediocre change-up. We see flashes all the time. He has stretches where he looks dominant, getting both strikeouts and an obscene amount of ground balls. Then he goes through stretches where the strike zone becomes a foreign entity to him, and he puts runners on like nobodies business. In short, he’s an enigma.
For a guy with big stuff, Peralta has not posted high strikeout rates at the Major League level. In 2013, Peralta posted a below-average strikeout rate of 6.33/9. Combined with a below-average strikeout rate is a sub-par walk rate. Peralta walked 3.58/9 last year. What’s keeping his head above water is the strong ground ball rate of 51%.
Peralta enjoyed his greatest success in 2013 during the month of July, in which he posted his highest K% of the season. After sitting between 11% and 13.3% during the first half of the season, Peralta’s K% jumped up to 21% in July. His GB% also was above his season line at 57.1%. He saw his lowest WHIP (1.11), FIP (3.68), and xFIP (3.70) in July as well. So while Peralta has had his struggles, he has had real success at the big league level.
Peralta probably ends up as a middle of the rotation type arm in the long run. He still has the upside of a number two type pitcher if he harnesses his command. A pitcher with strong ground ball tendencies who can consistently pound the zone sounds an awful lot like Kyle Lohse. Add a few ticks on the fastball, and you have a very solid pitcher.