Brewers: Explaining Freddy Peralta’s First Inning Struggles

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MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - JUNE 28: Freddy Peralta #51 of the Milwaukee Brewers reacts after throwing out Eric Sogard #4 of the Chicago Cubs , at first base in the sixth inning at American Family Field on June 28, 2021 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - JUNE 28: Freddy Peralta #51 of the Milwaukee Brewers reacts after throwing out Eric Sogard #4 of the Chicago Cubs , at first base in the sixth inning at American Family Field on June 28, 2021 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images) /
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While Freddy Peralta has emerged as a key contributor in the Brewers rotation, and among the top pitchers in the game, the first inning woes that plagued him early in the career have continued in 2022.

Like the rest of the rotation, Freddy Peralta is off to an impressive start to the 2022 season. Through his first five starts, he has thrown 23 innings, struck out 11.74 batters per 9 innings, walked 3.9 per 9, and accumulated 0.7 fWAR in that time. Despite those numbers, Peralta currently has a 5.09 ERA, with a 3.48 xERA, and a 2.48 FIP, indicating he has gotten unlucky and is due to see his ERA shrink as he continues to pitch.

Freddy Peralta is off to a hot-start in the 2022 season in spite of his first inning struggles, which has been the case throughout his Brewers career.

While his peripherals are impressive, a deeper dive shows just how the first inning continues to be an issue for the 25-year-old Peralta.

Peralta in the 1st inning

Peralta’s first inning stats have been consistently not good. The one exception is 2020, when he made one start.

Peralta in Innings 2-9

When looking at how Peralta fares in the remaining innings as a starter, the difference is night and day. The first inning, Peralta looks undeserving of a roster spot; however, the rest of the game he looks at worst like a solid starter, and at best a Cy Young contender.

That raises the question, why? What happens in the first inning that makes Freddy Peralta struggle so much?

Looking at pitch choice there are slight differences, but not enough that it can be pinned solely on that. When looking at his aggregate pitch usage, over the past two seasons, the breakdowns are as follows:

2022 Season

2021 Season

There is slight more usage with the 4-seam in the first inning as the tries to establish the fastball early, and more curveball usage in the later innings, but there is not a dramatic discrepancy with what Peralta throws.

In 2021, Peralta threw 189 balls outside the zone in the first inning, which comes to 40%. In the rest of the innings he threw 648 balls, which comes to 36%.

2022 Peralta has thrown 54 balls in the first inning out of 121 total pitches, which comes to 44.6%. 118 balls in the other innings, which comes out to 36.5%.

It seems that for some reason, be it control issues, nerves, or strategy, Peralta throws more balls in the first inning before seeing that number come down in the later innings.

Back in his rookie season, Peralta said that he “want[s] to be aggressive in the first inning and be aggressive all the time”.

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Freddy Peralta is a key member of the rotation, and forms a potent three-headed monster with Brandon Woodruff and Cy Young winner Corbin Burnes. Even with his first innings being shaky at best, Peralta has been able to establish himself as a true top-of-the rotation talent.

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