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It may come to pass that Matt Garza is the number 2 starter for the Brewers starting rotation in 2015. The Brewers value veterans, but, given our optimistic projections for Wily Peralta in 2015, he is a smart fit at number 2.
Peralta originally signed with the Brewers as an amateur free agent in 2005 as a teenager, and worked his way through the farm system over the next seven years. Pre-2012 and 2013, Peralta was widely regarded as both the Brewers top prospect and an MLB top 100 prospect talent.
Peralta first saw Big League action in late April during the 2012 season, pitching one inning and giving up one run on three hits before returning to the minors until September. Upon his latter call-up, Peralta made five starts and posted a promising 2.25 ERA over 28 innings.
Peralta had shown he was ready for the Bigs, and with the departures of Zack Greinke, Shaun Marcum, and Randy Wolf, he was slotted into the rotation for the 2013 season. Peralta made 32 starts that year, posting a 4.37 ERA over 183 1/3 innings. Not remarkable, but a good showing to build off of for a pitcher who was then just 24-years-old.
This past season, Peralta was a workhorse in the rotation, logging 198 2/3 innings over 32 starts, posting a 3.53 ERA. His FIP was much less enthusiastic (4.11), but his xFIP (3.64) and SIERA (3.73) both liked him much more. He also increased his K/9 rate from 6.3 to 7.0 and cut way back on his free passes, from 3.6 BB/9 to 2.8.
With these peripherals in mind, here is Wily’s projections. Again, the ERAs are being taken from the average ERAs submitted by our writers:
GS 32 IP 200 ERA 3.40 FIP 3.83 xFIP 3.53 WHIP 1.275 H/9 8.7 HR/9 1.0 GB% 51.8% BB/9 2.8 K/9 7.5 K/BB 2.68
A 7.5 K/9 rate is a big jump over his 7.0 rate in 2014, but if he is going to take the next step toward being a frontline starter, and his ERA yet again, he’ll need to stop pitching to contact so often. Another jump in quality means he likely embraced the high fastball with positive results or improved on his changeup.
As his numbers stand today, Peralta owns a very strong .643 OPS versus right handed batters, but a rather poor .779 OPS versus lefties. A better changeup would lead to huge improvements versus lefties.
As it stands now, Peralta throws one of the fastest heaters in the game (3rd fastest four-seam, 4th fastest two-seam), but he consistently pounds the zone low and away on most hitters, and he seems a bit too easy to predict. A stronger changeup would also keep hitters off balance.
Obviously Peralta owns elite fastball velocity. The trouble is that the Brewers seem to be wasting that velocity as part of a team philosophy. That said, someone with Peralta’s excellent repertoire is bound for further success.