There were questions going into 2019 as to which of the young Brewers pitchers would potentially make the starting rotation. After a 2018 season that flashed a bunch of potential, Freddy Peralta was able to secure one of those spots during Spring Training this year.
Freddy Peralta’s two starts in 2019 have had two very different results. On March 29th against the Cardinals, Peralta went only 3 innings and gave up 4 earned runs, including Paul Goldschmidt‘s first home with his new team, for what is currently the Milwaukee Brewers only loss of the season.
His start on April 3rd against the Reds, however, was an absolute gem – 8 innings of two-hit, shutout ball and 11 strikeouts. So what changed to provide such a different result in Peralta’s second outing?
Sometimes the answer is simple. It’s hard to give up runs if no one reaches base. Yes, Peralta gave up fewer hits in his second start, but more importantly he limited his walks. Peralta walked three and hit a batter as well in his first start. In his second, he walked none.
Of course, to limit walks you have to throw more strikes and that’s exactly what Freddy did as well. His percentage of balls thrown for strikes jumped from 65% in his first start to 72% in his second.
One of the things that surprised people in Peralta’s debut last year was just how much he relied on his fastball over any other pitch. In that dazzling game against the Rockies where he struck out 13 batters in just 5 2/3 innings, he threw his fastball 90.8% of the time per Fangraphs. By the end of the year, his fastball percentage moved to 77.6%, which ended up being a pretty good benchmark for his success. In eight games where his FB% was 77.6 or more, he had a 5-0 record. In the six games where it was less, his record was 1-4.
Oddly, Peralta’s FB% was 80% in his first game this year that saw him get roughed up by the Cardinals. However the fact remains that by increasing to 84% in the second game versus the Reds, Peralta clearly had much more success.
Ground Ball Rate
Another important aspect of Peralta’s game is his ability to limit ground balls. His success comes on either strikeouts or forcing hitters into fly balls. In his first game, 33% of balls in play resulted in a ground ball according to Fangraphs. In game number two: zero ground balls.
Peralta takes the mound again on Tuesday in a late game against the Angels looking for his second win of the season. If he pitches like he did against the Reds, there’s a good chance Milwaukee Brewers fans get to see that happen.
Freddy Peralta is a key member of this Milwaukee Brewers rotation in 2019. He’s going to need to consistently have more starts like his one against Cincinnati and not like his start against St. Louis.