Fantasy Baseball: Let's Take Notice of Wily Peralta
Almost a full week into the season, nearly every starting pitcher has taken a turn in the rotation. Yes, it's obviously too early to make sweeping judgments, but it's never too early to investigate a surprising performance when we see one.
In his season debut on Wednesday at Miller Park, right hander Wily Peralta of the Milwaukee Brewers yielded just three hits to the visiting Colorado Rockies over five shutout innings. He threw a total of 90 pitches with 5 strikeouts and 1 walk. Among the 18 batters faced, Peralta earned a first-pitch strike 12 times.
Perhaps most impressive thing about the outing was his maximum velocity: 98.8 miles per hour (MPH). According to MLB.com’s Brewers beat writer Adam McCalvy, Peralta only exceeded that measurement a total of five times all of last year. It’s important to keep in mind that MLB has changed the method in which velocity is being recorded, but this feat by Peralta is still quite impressive.
Can He Do it Again?
Assuming Peralta stays on schedule within the Brewers' rotation, he’s currently lined up to face the Toronto Blue Jays in their building north of the border this coming Tuesday. This matchup is an intriguing one, and for other reasons than Peralta's surprise start to begin the 2017 season. Outside of switch-hitting slugger Kendrys Morales, Peralta will be asked to navigate a lineup that tilts extremely right handed.
This is key, because finding a solution to cool off left-handed bats is something that continues to elude Peralta. For his career, lefties own a lifetime batting average of .286 against him with a .354 wOBA. That’s a full 40 points ahead of damage done by right-handed hitters. Last year, left-handed sticks beat him up to the tune of a staggering .374 wOBA.
Admittedly, it's hard to imagine trusting Peralta in any DFS setting for this matchup in Toronto. For starters, the Brewers -- projected to be among the worst teams in baseball -- will assuredly be underdogs in the vast majority of their road matchups all year. And, in addition to facing off against a very solid starter in J.A. Happ, Peralta didn't last long enough in his debut to inspire much confidence that he can rack fantasy points by pitching deep into the game.
However, those in season-long leagues who are looking for streaming options may be able to extract from value from Peralta. If not, he's still someone that should be added to your watch list.
That’s because if we keep projecting out every fifth day through the month of April, Peralta would face the lowly Cincinnati Reds not just once, but twice. And those are matchups we should absolutely look to exploit in all formats, especially if Peralta has been able to get to 100 pitches and beyond by that point. Cincinnati has some switch hitters in their lineup, but on-base machine Joey Votto is the only red flag from the left side to be truly concerned about.
A Sleeper Once Upon a Time
Back in 2014, a 25-year-old Peralta came up short of pitching 200 innings by four outs. Despite hitting a number of bumps along the way, Peralta posted a respectable 3.53 ERA with a 3.64 xFIP and 3.73 SIERA. That suggests his solid ERA was very much in line with his skills. Peralta was able to put himself on the radar with an elite groundball rate of 53.6 percent and a fastball that averaged 95.6 MPH.
As a late-round sleeper in 2015, Peralta became a disaster almost immediately. En route to a 4.72 ERA over 20 starts, Peralta hit the disabled list with an oblique strain in late May. He returned two months later and continued to struggle until the same oblique issue led to him being shut down in September.
Peralta stayed healthy last year, but he was demoted to Triple-A with a 6.68 ERA after his first 13 starts. He returned in August and displayed significantly better results. In his final 10 starts, Peralta tossed 61.2 innings of a 2.92 ERA with a 7.5 strikeouts per nine innings.
Something Might Be Brewing
Despite all the velocity, Peralta has never been much of a strikeout pitcher. His career 8.2 percent swinging-strike rate offers very little optimism that things are likely to ever change on that front.
However, Peralta turns 28 years old next month and did make more than 30 starts in his first two seasons in the majors. While the last two have been quite ugly -- especially against left-handed hitters -- there will be opportunities navigate around those issues by picking and choosing matchups. We can deplot Peralta as needed against teams with limited left-handed power options as a streamer du jour, especially later this month against Cincinnati.
If he continues to perform and tames lefties to any reasonable degree, we just might see a return to the solid innings-eating version of Peralta from 2014.