The Breakout Candidates
Freddy Peralta almost has all the tools to be the next stud pitcher for the Milwaukee Brewers. According to Baseball Savant, he’s in the 75th percentile or better in 9 out of the 13 categories, excelling most in getting batters to swing and miss.
He debuted in 2018 as a 21 year old and is primed for a stellar season in 2021 if he can develop a third solid pitch, as his four-seam fastball and curveball have proved to be quality options. He added a slider to his mix in 2020 but he didn’t get much of a chance to throw it in games.
Also, with the departure of David Phelps last season, Peralta picked up more experience in high-leverage spots for Craig Counsell. Brewer fans should be really excited to see what Freddy Peralta can do this year.
The decision that Eric Yardley made in college to switch from a conventional pitching motion to a sidearm approach may have saved his career. He went from a 5.18 ERA in his sophomore year to 2.49 in his junior year in college after the switch and he hasn’t looked back. Now he has a chance to be a huge piece in the Brewers bullpen.
Last season, he appeared in a team-high 24 games and went 2-0 with an ERA of 1.54. Opposing right-handed hitters struggled against Yardley, hitting only .208 with an OBP of .296. Last year might have been considered his breakout year, but one more year of similar numbers may get him a nice payday and some league-wide recognition.
Drew Rasmussen, the flame-throwing righty, is a guy to be excited about entering 2021. He appeared in 12 games for Milwaukee last year and while he struggled in his last two games, prior to that he looked sharp. He didn’t allow a run in five games in a row and if you take out those last two games he would’ve had an ERA of around 1.90.
Rasmussen needs to get more comfortable with his off-speed pitches, as he threw his four-seam fastball about 70% of the time. Regardless of how fast and how much a pitching is spinning, there still has to be some doubt in a hitter’s mind of what’s coming. Rasmussen could be a guy that shines out of nowhere this year, especially if he appears in games after the likes of Brent Suter or Eric Yardley.
Justin Topa was welcomed to the big leagues by a two-run blast by Victor Reyes of the Detroit Tigers in early September, but Topa put that game in the rearview mirror quickly. He finished his next five games of the regular season without giving up an earned run.
The momentum even continued into the postseason where he worked two scoreless innings against the eventual World Series Champion Los Angeles Dodgers, only allowing one hit. That’s pretty good for a kid that just made his major league debut 29 days prior.
He is another hard thrower but the difference between him and Rasmussen is the use of the fastball. Topa only threw one four-seam fastball last season (which clocked in at 97) but his sinker can reach the upper 90s also. In addition, he didn’t allow a single hit with his slider in 36 pitches. Keep your eye on Justin Topa out of the bullpen this year.