Our 2020 Milwaukee Brewers season report card series continues. Today we will grade the season of right-handed pitcher Freddy Peralta.
The 2020 season saw Freddy Peralta emerge as a key bullpen piece for the Milwaukee Brewers. But before looking at his 2020 season, it is important to remember his big contract news from February of this year.
Peralta was a year removed from a mixed 2019 season in which he was moved from starter to reliever when the Brewers elected to give him a five-year contract extension with $15.5MM in guaranteed money. Despite not having a clear job description at the time of the extension, the Brewers felt he would be an effective out-getter in whatever role they used him in going forward.
Peralta’s 2019 consisted of multiple roles as he started eight games for the Brewers, but he ended up settling into a reliever role with occasional high-leverage situational game action. 2020 would be no different. Peralta made 15 appearances for the Brewers last season and his one start came in the third game of the season.
Whether or not Freddy Peralta should be in the starting rotation or left in the bullpen is an article for another time, so today let’s grade his 2020 season performance.
Freddy Peralta 2020 Report Card
In a smaller sample size of 29.1 innings pitched this season, Freddy Peralta posted a career best 3.99 ERA. He also struck batters out at a career high 37.6%! As a reliever, his strikeout percentage increased to 40%, which among relivers with a minimum of 20 innings pitched, was 12th best in all of baseball.
With the increased amount of strikeouts, Peralta really did not change the way he attacks hitters all that much. While he did add a slider last off-season, Statcast indicates he only threw the pitch on 24 different occasions, which is just under a five percent usage rate.
Rather it was another season in which Peralta threw a healthy dose of high fastballs and mixed in his swooping curveball. His fastball command was great this year as he consistently hit the top of the zone and as a result he limited batters to a .203 batting average against the pitch. The curveball was his big whiff pitch as opposing batters swung and missed 54% of the time against it.
However, when the curveball hung, damage was done with it as five out of the eight extra base hits he allowed this season came against that pitch. Thankfully for Peralta, this was few and far between as batters managed to hit just .240 against his curveball.
The Brewers kept Peralta’s outings extended early on in the season, as his first three appearances out of the bullpen this season went three innings, four innings, and then two innings. He also racked up a lot of strikeouts in those situations. Peralta struck out 6 of the 12 White Sox batters that he faced, 8 of 14 Twins, and then 5 of 7 Cubs.
With the increased success comes increased responsibilities. Peralta eventually started receiving more of the high-leverage opportunities, though that was not the case to start 2020 mainly due David Phelps holding that role early on and Devin Williams busting onto the scene.
Still, Baseball Reference indicates that nine of his 15 games came in high-leverage situations. He of course posted more medium-leverage situations, likely due to mainly coming in during the middle innings of games, but he did manage to record three holds on the year.
All-in-all it was a step forward results wise for Freddy Peralta in 2020. He still hasn’t been able to develop a consistent third pitch throughout an entire season since entering the league in 2017, but he is just 24 years old and still has plenty of development ahead of him.