Well, this trade deadline was crazy. The Dodgers continue to throw insane amounts of money at every problem they have. The Yankees teased the Red Sox by picking up Anthony Rizzo. So, why don’t we just take a small step back from all the trade talk and talk instead about someone who’s not getting nearly enough attention this season.
Milwaukee starting pitcher Freddy Peralta currently owns the third-best ERA in all of baseball among qualified pitchers. He’s got a record of 8-3. Those three losses are tied for the second-fewest among qualified pitchers. Across Peralta’s 19 starts this year, he has had six in which he’s allowed only one hit. He’s had six more where he’s allowed only two hits. Basically, in 63 percent of his starts, Freddy Peralta has been damn near unhittable. In addition, Peralta has not made a single appearance this season where he recorded fewer than five strikeouts. And yes, that does include his opening day relief appearance where he pitched only two innings. Peralta struck out six batters that day.
Now, you might be thinking: “Geez, as long as deGrom stays on the IL long enough, this guy could win the Cy Young.” Well, to quote Vizzini from The Princess Bride, “You’d like to think that, wouldn’t you!” Despite all the success Peralta has found in 2021, he’s currently being given +4000 odds to win the NL Cy Young — the 12th-best odds in the National League. And to further the disrespect, Freddy Peralta was named an All-Star... but only after four of the starters already on the National League All-Star roster were forced to miss the game due to injury. That’s just crazy.
Remember earlier when I said Freddy Peralta was almost unhittable at times? Well, I don’t think I made myself clear enough. Peralta isn’t an innings eater. He’s only pitched 108 innings this season — a good amount, but not nearly as many as the true workhorses in the league. In those 108 innings, Peralta has surrendered just 47 hits... 47! Of all qualified pitchers, the next closest, the now-Dodgers’ Max Scherzer has given up 71 in 111 innings pitched. He’s allowed 24 fewer hits than the next-best pitcher in baseball. That’s an ungodly statistic.
Now, I’m not going to sit here and tell you that Peralta is an untouchable magician on the mound. He’s not Jacob deGrom after all. Peralta has struggled mightily with control this year. He walks hitters at the second-highest rate in the league, and because of his lack of control he tends to throw more pitches. More pitches means fewer hitters faced. Fewer hitters faced means he doesn’t go as deep into games. That negative is more or less mitigated by the strength of Milwaukee’s bullpen, but it’s a negative nonetheless. Peralta hasn’t gone deeper than 7.1 innings in any start this season. A golden guideline of pitching is that you want to stay under 15 pitches thrown per inning. Across all 19 of Peralta’s starts, he’s hit that benchmark in just six of them.
However, those drawbacks don’t do nearly enough to take away from what Peralta has done right in 2021. Even in the three losses Peralta has suffered this year, only one was his fault. His May 5 start against the Phillies was Peralta’s worst start of the year. Philadelphia got to Peralta early, putting up five earned runs in the first inning. Milwaukee attempted to recover, but ultimately lost the game 5-4. His other losses were by finals of 2-1 and 2-0. In those games, Peralta allowed just eight hits and five walks across 13 innings. Those are not his fault. Hopefully Milwaukee’s deadline addition of Eduardo Escobar will prevent similar situations from happening during the final stretch of the regular season.
So, why has Peralta gone so unnoticed by non-Brewers fans this season? It probably has to do with the team around him. Corbin Burnes and Brandon Woodruff have been front-runners for the National League Cy Young Award all season long. Earlier this year, Burnes set an MLB record for consecutive strikeouts without issuing a walk to start a season. Woodruff started the season on an incredible run where he recorded an ERA of just 1.27 through May. Because of Burnes’ and Woodruff’s incredible starts to the season, the pair drew all the attention away from Peralta. Yet, as the season has progressed, it’s been Peralta who has outshined his teammates. Let’s compare the season stats between the three of them.
Woodruff: 2.14 / Peralta: 2.17 / Burnes: 2.29
Woodruff: 0.84 / Peralta: 0.87 / Burnes: 0.9
Peralta: 72.7% / Burnes: 60% / Woodruff: 58.3%
Burnes: 36.6% / Peralta: 34.5% / Woodruff: 30.4%
The three of them are all pretty close in every major statistic. So please, tell me why Burnes is being given +2200 odds to take home the Cy Young (despite having pitched fewer innings might I add), and Woodruff +2000 odds. Those odds indicate that both Burnes and Woodruff are twice as likely to take home the award than Peralta.
This isn’t an attack on Burnes or Woodruff. Both of them have done more than enough to earn the praise they’ve received. Peralta has too though, and I just want to hear the same praise thrown his way.