Opening Day starting assignments are usually reserved for a team's "ace." If you're familiar with the Milwaukee Brewers, however, you'll know that they don't really have one of those. The club has one real veteran starter in Matt Garza and several younger guys that are still trying to get their footing in the big leagues, so the Opening Day start was sort of a toss-up coming into Spring Training.
RHP Wily Peralta has been named the Opening Day starter on April 4 vs. San Francisco. This will mark his first Opening Day start.— Milwaukee Brewers (@Brewers) March 21, 2016
Today, the Milwaukee Brewers and manager Craig Counsell have announced that Wily Peralta will get the nod on April 4th. A former top prospect for the Brewers, Peralta experienced a nice breakout campaign in 2014 when he went 17-11 in 32 starts, posting a 3.53 ERA and 4.11 FIP in 198.2 innings pitched. Many, myself included, were prognosticating another step forward for Peralta in 2015.
That would not be the case, however, as Peralta missed time with an oblique injury and wasn't particularly effective when he did manage to pitch, posting a 4.72 ERA and 4.84 FIP in 20 starts and 108.2 innings. His fastball traveled more than a mile-per-hour slower and he saw a sharp decrease in his strikeout rate, all the way down to just 12.6%.
Big Wily hasn't looked very good so far this spring either, boasting an 11.70 ERA and 6:3 K/BB ratio across 10.0 innings pitched in four appearances. Peralta has said that he's been working on specific pitches so far this spring, and with his last two appearances he'll instead choose to focus on his bottom-line results in order to prepare for the season.
This will be the soon-to-be 27 year old's first Opening Day assignment and will kick off what could be a big year for Peralta. If he can't find the form he displayed in 2014 once again, he could find himself passed up for a spot in the rotation by any one of the bevy of up-and-coming arms now that are in the pipeline or perhaps even shipped out of town via trade.
The Brewers will kick off this season on April 4th at Miller Park, facing off against Madison Bumgarner and the San Francisco Giants at 1:10 PM CST.
Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs