A lot can happen in just three years, just ask Wily Peralta. In the 2014 season he finished with a 17-11 record and a 3.53 ERA, a really nice season for the then 25 year old. With a season like that, there were some lofty expectations. Fast forward to 2017 and Peralta is on the 10 day DL and the Milwaukee Brewers’ fan base is calling for his head. It seems inconceivable that things could go so wrong so quickly, but they have. How did we get to this point? What lead us from this:
This isn’t meant to be an “Old Takes Exposed” sort of thing, because everyone truly believed that Peralta had a bright future with the Milwaukee Brewers. Unfortunately, as great as 2014 was, 2015, 2016, and 2017 showed us that that is likely not the case.
It’s hard to be so dismissive of someone like Wily, though. A 97 mph fastball and a slider can be a nasty combination. Still, most of 2016 was a struggle for Wily, but he didn’t necessarily have any deep-rooted analytical stats that that could help pinpoint the issue. He didn’t walk a ton of guys, he didn’t lose anything on his pitches, and there wasn’t a discernable difference in where he was placing his pitches. This is where you start to find the problem. Since his debut he has had the 4 seam fastball, 2 seam fastball, and slider combination. Sure he can throw a changeup, but where it ends up is anyone’s guess. It could be in the catcher’s glove or it could be 450 feet the other way. The point is, Wily hasn’t grown as a pitcher and one has to wonder if he put in the effort as well. A lot of pitchers are able to add to their arsenal and make adjustments; we haven’t seen that from Peralta in 5 years.
To his credit, as much as he struggled last season he finished on a strong note. His last 10 starts saw him garner just a 2.92 ERA, seven Ks per nine innings, and around two walks per nine innings, so there was reason to have hope for 2017. As we know, that hope was violently squashed. The quality pitching did not carry over to the next season, and it’s clear why. Predictability can kill pitchers, and that’s what is happening. If major league hitters are seeing the same two or three pitches every at-bat, it’s guaranteed that they will start to key in on what is coming next. Especially if they get to see him three or four times a game. Well, the Brewers thought they could fix that when they moved him to the bullpen. Maybe if Wily is only used in relief situations, hitters won’t be seeing his same stuff over and over. It’s sound logic. Unfortunately it wasn’t the case, things got worse. The second above Tom Haudricourt tweet will show just how bad things got. Peralta used to pitch to contact and get a lot of ground balls, over time that stopped being the case. He’s never been a strikeout machine, so where do the outs come from? Eventually they don’t. That’s how you end up with a 7.21 ERA. As much as I don’t want to cast Wily off the island, the options are narrowing down. It’s coming down to letting him go or sending him back down in hopes he can have a 2016 type resurgence. The issue with the latter option is that he has to be designated for assignment. If that’s the route the Brewers take, because he would be DFA he could be picked up by other teams. If no other team picks him up, he would then be on the Sky Sox.
The Brewers have to ask themselves some hard questions. Can they allow him to work out of this funk in the majors? That’s a risky move considering how wide open the NL Central is currently. If he stays the same, he would surely cost the team some games that they cannot afford to lose. If he does improve, can you trust it? Would it be worth bringing him back again next season to see if the improvement is sustainable or would they try to trade him for anything they possibly could? There are a lot of different roads that this can take, and the shortest one is to wash your hands of him. It’s cutthroat, but that’s the business. Wily had some moments for the team but this is now three seasons in a row where it’s hard to be encouraged by what you have seen. I think the option both parties, and fans included, are hoping for is that when Wily returns he has some things figured out. The bullpen needs an arm that can get a few innings, and keep us in games or hold onto the lead. If Wily can return and be that guy, it would be unexpected and feel like a miracle but this is baseball we’re talking about. This has been a season full of surprises in Milwaukee, what’s one more?