by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
If you follow the mantra of “Don’t pay for saves,” you are always looking for the next great closer to emerge. They often seem to come out of nowhere, as team’s suddenly shift a starter or elite prospect to the bullpen to fill a need. Considering the moves Milwaukee have made in recent months, jettisoning three potential closer options, they’ve left a gaping void at the back of the bullpen. There isn’t an obvious option to step in, so could the team go unconventional?
They have a slew of starting options, so after his struggles to figure it out in the rotation could the Brewers transition Wily Peralta to the bullpen? Over the past two seasons he’s posted ERAs of 4.72 and 4.86, so it’s easy to argue that they have nothing to lose. Plus, isn’t it easy to envision his skills playing well in short bursts?
Peralta has never shown much strikeout stuff in the Majors, with a career 6.38 K/9. However he’s always been a player we’ve seen more upside in than that. As it is his fastball averages 94.8 mph, and without having to pace himself there’s reason to believe that it ticks up another mile per hour or two. That would help his slider play up, a pitch that already boasted a 15.09% Whiff% in ’16.
As primarily a two-pitch pitcher you would think that his stuff would play up better in relief, and from a strikeout perspective it’s easy to imagine. Don’t believe that argument, just look at his minor league strikeout marks:
- Overall – 8.6 K/9
- Triple-A – 9.1 K/9
- Double-A – 8.1 K/9
Now you couple that potential with already solid control (3.13 BB/9 for his career) and a sinker that generates ample groundballs (51.9% for his career) and you have the full skillset we look for. His biggest problem in the Majors has been home runs allowed, including a 1.34 HR/9 last season, but with his groundball tendencies you would expect an improvement there regardless of the role.
At 27-years old it obviously isn’t too late for the Brewers to revitalize his career, and for a rebuilding franchise they have every reason to do so. Obviously it’s hardly a guarantee that the move happens, but without a spot in the rotation and the questions in the bullpen it makes sense. While he’ll likely be a non-factor if starting, if you hear the news that he’s going to pitch in relief he instantly becomes a must own option.
The upside is there, the question is just whether or not Milwaukee makes the move.
Sources – Fangraphs, Baseball Reference, Brooks Baseball
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Make sure to check out our other Early 2017 Rankings:
|Starting Pitcher||#1-20 |02/27/17|