After MLB’s midseason announcement they would start checking pitchers for sticky substances, there was much speculation about who would be impacted by that. The Brewers have three pitchers with high spin rates, let’s check in on them, starting with All-Star Freddy Peralta.
How has Freddy Peralta Pitched?
Freddy has made 4 starts, pitching a total of 23 innings since June 21st, the day the crackdown started. For Freddy in those 4 starts since the crackdown, he has an impressive 2.74 ERA, striking out 12.1 batters per 9 innings, while limiting opponents to a .103 batting average; however, hits are not the only way to get on base. And Freddy has walked 15 batters over that time, which translates to a BB/9 of 5.9, which is not ideal.
MLB’s decision to crackdown on sticky substances led to concerns that certain Brewers pitchers would not be as effective. Freddy Peralta is holding up, however.
The walks have also led Freddy to have a much higher FIP than his ERA. FIP is a fielding neutral metric, which only factors in events the pitcher has direct control over, such as home runs, strikeouts, and walks. Freddy’s FIP is 4.39, indicating he is benefiting from the defense behind him.
It is tough to do a direct comparison to pre-crackdown stats and post-crackdown because Peralta pitched 75 innings in the 14 games he appeared in pre-crackdown. But, in that time Peralta recorded an ERA of 2.28, a FIP of 2.89, with a K/9 of 12.48, and BB/9 of 3.48, while letting opponents hit .140 off of him.
Peralta is good, there’s no denying that. He is a deserving All-Star for the Brewers, but it appears earlier in the season his walks were more under control than they are right now. However, in the trade off of more walks, opponents are hitting less against him, and barreling only 4.3% of the time, and a hard hit% of 29.8% per StatCast, as opposed to 7.1% barrel% and a hard hit% of 36.4% pre-June 21.
What do the Spin Rates Show?
Some substances were said to be used for control, and getting an extra grip (sunscreen and rosin), while others such as SpiderTack were used to help give the ball additional spin rate. When looking at the monthly averages of Freddy’s spin rate across 2021, there is a slight downward trend evident.
April – July
The numbers show a decline in all four of the pitches Four-Pitch Freddy has in his arsenal. However, there is not the massive drop off seen with such pitchers as Gerrit Cole (who’s July avg 4-seam fastball spin rate is down nearly 9% from the April average).
If Freddy was using anything, it was likely a sunscreen and rosin mix, which Eno Sarris of The Athletic tested, and found a slight increase in spin rate, but not near the impact of Spider Tack or other substances pitchers have been alleged to use. The sunscreen and rosin mix is said to help with control, which may be a reason Freddy is seeing an increase in walks.
Another possibility is that he is simply getting tired as the season wears on. Peralta sits at 98 innings, which is more than he had thrown in the Majors at any point in his career, and there’s still two and a half months left in the season.
Ultimately it is impossible to know what substances if any were being used at any point. However, Freddy has passed every post-inning check, and is not seeing the severe decrease in spin rate that certain pitchers are.