Freddy Peralta has been a key member of the Milwaukee Brewers rotation this year. He earned the fifth starter job in spring training but has been pitching much better than the fifth guy on the depth chart so far in 2021.
Peralta has been a commonly seen presence on the Brewers pitching staff since 2018. He had always shown flashes of brilliance, but also lacked consistency. That inconsistency was mostly the reason why Peralta spent the majority of his time in the bullpen in 2019 and 2020.
Part of the reason why Peralta was so inconsistent was his lack of command. Peralta was always getting deep into counts, getting high pitch counts, and walking a large number of batters. For his career, Peralta has a 4.1 BB/9.
It was that struggle with command that made it appear to many Peralta was destined to stick in the bullpen going forward. But the Brewers saw his improved arsenal this spring and improved command and decided to put him in the rotation.
Freddy Peralta’s development with the Brewers has been impressive, and command has been the key final step.
Adding the slider and changeup to the pitch mix gave Peralta four pitches, a true starter’s arsenal, to work with. Adding those pitches alone, essentially over one offseason, is impressive enough.
Typically when a pitcher adds a couple new pitches to the arsenal, it takes a little while for them to command them. But for Peralta, he’s improved the command of these pitches dramatically over the course of the season.
In his first four outings, covering 18 innings, Peralta allowed 12 walks, which is a 6.0 BB/9. That’s definitely high, but also not surprising given Peralta’s previous issues with walks and the fact he’s learning to command some new pitches.
While many would have presumed this could be a year-long, or even longer, struggle to find that command, instead he’s found it pretty quickly.
In his most recent seven starts heading into Friday night’s game against the Diamondbacks, Peralta has again allowed 12 walks, but in 38.2 IP, which gives him a much more palatable 2.8 BB/9 over that span.
Also in those last seven starts, Peralta has dropped his season ERA to 2.38 and includes his first career complete game, although that was in a seven inning doubleheader game.
Peralta has walked just one batter in five of those seven starts. He’s yet to have a start with no walks allowed this year.
Eliminating walks is the final step in becoming a frontline-level pitcher for Freddy Peralta.
Peralta has found consistent success to this point in the 2021 season. The now 25 year old Peralta has struggled with consistency and command in the past, but not this year.
If Peralta can continue this sub-3.0 BB/9 pitching, he’ll reach ace-level status. Although he’s in a rotation with Brandon Woodruff and Corbin Burnes and may never get a true “ace” designation, Peralta can dominate at that kind of level.
Peralta has a sub-2.50 ERA on the year, has gone six-plus innings in four of his last six starts, and has cut down on the walks. He’s also struck out seven or more batters in each of his starts this season.
When the Brewers were developing Jimmy Nelson, he had the stuff and the pitch mix to be an ace early on, but it took him a while to develop that command. Nelson led the league in hit batsmen and walks in 2016. Then in 2017, he put it all together and had a 2.5 BB/9 and the HBPs were nearly cut in half.
It took Nelson four years to lock in the command when he had the pitch mix. Peralta has only had this pitch mix for two months and he’s already appeared to be locking it in.
We’ll see how the rest of the season plays out and what his final numbers look like, but over his last seven starts, Peralta has locked in the command. He has the strikeout ability, he has the low ERA, he has the pitch mix, and the final step to long-term success is consistent command. It appears he may have it.
What the Brewers have done in developing this rotation cannot be talked about enough. They took three guys who were not high profile prospects and turned them into possibly three ace-level pitchers.