The Milwaukee Brewers have a truly outstanding bullpen. If you think about it, they have three arms that stand out above the rest: Josh Hader, Devin Williams, and Freddy Peralta. Just imagine being a hitter and having to face any one of them in the late innings. Yeah, not fun.
Peralta, in particular, is an authentic Swiss Army knife when it comes to potential roles. He is a fantastic multi-inning reliever, but despite the fact that he has been much better in the bullpen than as a starter in his short MLB tenure (3.59 ERA in relief, 5.45 ERA in 23 starts) the Brewers may consider using him in the latter role. Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported this month that he is adding a slider and a changeup to his already deadly fastball-curveball combo.
For now, it’s safe to assume that he will pitch lots of innings, and since he has RP eligibility in fantasy baseball, you can just deploy him there and watch him rack up strikeout after strikeout regardless of his role.
A truly amazing fastball is Freddy Peralta’s calling card
It’s mind-boggling how a pitcher can be so good while throwing the same pitch, in this case the four-seamer, over 70% of the time. He used 73.5% fastballs in 2020, to be exact, and the pitch has an excellent 36.6% whiff rate and a .257 xwOBA.
He used his curveball 21.6% of the time, and while it didn’t have an elite xwOBA at .316, it did have a stellar 54.3% whiff rate. He rarely went to his slider (4.8%) but when he did, it was money: a .201 xwOBA and a 37.5% whiff rate.
Those weapons helped “Fastball Freddy” finish 2020 with an incredible 14.42 strikeouts per nine innings. He punched out 37.6% of the hitters he faced, right up there with the very best relievers in the league.
If you look at Peralta’s ERA, you may think he was “meh” or just not very good. It was 3.99. However, Fielding Independent Pitching, or FIP, is another useful run-prevention metric that helps us determine pitching performance. Peralta’s FIP was a much lower 2.41.
Peralta’s 2.81 SIERA (which includes the type of balls in play allowed by the pitcher in the equation) and 3.23 xFIP (which uses a league-average HR/FB rate) also certify that he was, indeed, much better in 2020 than his ERA indicates.
Peralta’s 2021 outlook
For now, the Brewers will likely use Peralta in a multi-inning relief role, unless there is a change of plans in the future. It’s safe to assume that the right-hander will give you an edge in the strikeouts department, and if he keeps evolving as a pitcher, he will be a ratios asset as well.
If spring training performance is any indication, Peralta is primed for a huge season. In 3 2/3 frames so far, he hasn’t allowed any earned runs. He has conceded three hits and a couple of walks, with an absolutely bonkers 10 strikeouts.
That right there is a typical Peralta performance: a few too many walks, but enough strikeouts to make the tradeoff worthwhile.
He could be moved into the rotation at some point, if his slider and changeup make enough progress, in which case he would gain SP eligibility in the leagues that he doesn’t have it. In any case, he should be the perfect addition for your staff, and it shouldn’t cost you much more than a late-round pick.