Wily Peralta’s career has been a mixed bag. There has never been a question that he has the stuff to make it in the big leagues. His stuff has not translated to success as a starter. Maybe its time for the Brewers to use Peralta in a different way?
The Brewers have 6 starting pitchers vying for 5 rotation spots.
One of these players is not going to make the rotation. Peralta throws the hardest of the group. For the most part Wily has the least diverse pitch mix as well, throwing fastball or slider 94% of the time. Using him in shorter bursts may allow his stuff to play up, and hopefully translate to sustained success at the Major League level.
Moving Peralta to the pen would not be an unprecedented move. There have been plenty of pitchers who have flamed out as starters and have gone on to successful relief careers. Most notable of these would be Wade Davis, Zach Britton, and post season darling Andrew Miller. If you need a few examples of former Brewers who have made this transition, look no further than Will Smith and Zach Duke.
Why it could work.
Typically, relievers tend to see an uptick in velocity when pitching in 1-2 inning outings. Peralta’s fastball sits in the 95 MPH range. At the end of the 2016 season, he was hitting the high 90’s regularly. It is not out of the question you could see 97-98 in short bursts.
Peralta is a ground ball pitcher given his sinker/slider pitch mix. His career ground ball rate is over 50%. If he can add a few MPH on his fastball, his slider could become a better weapon to keep hitters off balance and induce weak contact. Balls hit on the ground do not leave the ball park and the Brewers could have one of the better infields in recent memory. A theoretical infield of Hernan Perez, Orlando Arcia, Johnathan Villar, and Eric Thames should be solid.
The “times through the order penalty”. The more times a Major League hitter sees a pitcher in any given game, the better chance he has to make hard contact and get a hit. This generally applies to all pitchers. In a relief role, odds are very slim that Wily would ever face a batter more than once.
Why it wont work.
Effective relievers need to miss bats, something Peralta has struggled with. His career K/9 is 6.38. The positives mentioned above could help this, but its hard to see him magically striking out 8-9 per nine innings.
Relievers who walk batters are also ineffective. Peralta has averaged 3.13 BB/9 in his career. You simply can not walk that many batters pitching in relief.
Peralta gave up 19 home runs in 127.2 innings last year, 1.34 per 9 innings. Well above his career average of 1.04. If the trend of increased home runs continues, he will not last long in the bullpen (or MLB for that matter).
Is it worth a shot?
I think so. Wily Peralta could be the odd man out of the rotation anyway. He may even be a non-tender candidate. He is due a raise if he makes it to arbitration. But I think the Brewers should take the monetary risk to see of if he can rejuvenate his career in the bullpen.
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