The 2014 Milwaukee Brewers spent a lot of money on pitching. Matt Garza, Yovani Gallardo and Kyle Lohse combined to earn $35 million to fill the top three spots in the starting rotation, and two of those three will receive raises next season.
Much further down this table we find Wily Peralta, who earned just $515,000 while having a season you selected as the best among Brewers pitchers. The payroll flexibility provided by getting a player of this value at a price this low is a textbook example of why developing your own pitching is so critical to winning at the major league level.
Peralta had a pretty good season in 2013, posting a 4.37 ERA over 183.1 innings and finishing as the ninth-most valuable Brewer in that year's rankings. In the year since, however, he's improved nearly every facet of his game. He led the Brewers in innings pitched (198.2) and strikeouts (154) this season, lowered his ERA by over 80 points (from 4.37 to 3.53) and dropped his walk rate from 3.6 per nine innings to 2.8. Wins aren't a reliable measure of pitcher ability, but he was only the ninth pitcher in franchise history to record 17 in a season and the third in the last 22 years.
Peralta still won't turn 26 until May and has another season to play before he's eligible for arbitration for the first time. If he continues to develop at this pace he could be something truly special.
Peralta had a pair of remarkable performances in 2014 that stand out above the others, so instead of arbitrarily choosing one I'll tell you about both.
First, on May 2 Peralta beat the Reds almost by himself. He kept the Reds off the board in one of baseball's most homer-friendly parks, holding them to just three hits over eight innings, and hit a double that drove home both Brewers runs in a 2-0 victory. That win improved the Brewers to 21-9 on the season. Here are the highlights from that outing:
It's hard to top that performance, but Peralta's final appearance of the year on September 27 came close. He allowed one run on five hits over seven innings in that game and set a new career-high by striking out 13 Cubs in a 2-1 win that turned out to be the Brewers' final victory of the season. Let's go to the highlights:
That game was only the 12th time in franchise history a pitcher had recorded 13 or more strikeouts.
As noted above, Peralta earned just $515,000 in 2014 and likely won't receive a lot more in 2015 for his final pre-arbitration season unless the Brewers make an effort to lock him up long-term this winter. If they continue to go year-to-year with him he'll be eligible for arbitration for the first time in 2016 and would be a free agent before the 2019 season.
Previous MVBrewers posts can be seen at the links below, or in their own dedicated section: