In what is becoming a regular occurrence, Wily Peralta had another bad start on Sunday. This time, he allowed six runs in 4.1 innings. It was the fourth time this season that he failed to get out of the fifth inning, and the third time he's allowed at least six runs. In twelve starts this season, Peralta has recorded only two quality starts, and they were barely able to be called "quality".
After twelve starts and 61 innings, Peralta owns a 6.79 ERA and 5.44 FIP. He has a 5.61 K/9 and 3.84 BB/9. The results aren't much better in the last month either (6.10 ERA and 5.29 FIP). Peralta hasn't shown much improvement at all, and there's not much positive to take from his recent starts.
To this point, there hasn't been a push to remove Peralta from the rotation since there is no better candidate to replace him. The two top candidates in Colorado Springs (Jorge Lopez & Taylor Jungmann) have both struggled. However, with Matt Garza getting ready to come off the DL, a spot will be needed in the rotation soon. Since Garza is going to get his chance in the rotation, someone has to go.
The simplest option would be to send either Zach Davies or Junior Guerra to the minors. Both have already used up an option, so they can be freely be sent back and forth to the minor leagues with no extra roster implications (think David Goforth's situation). However, is it fair to demote either of them? Both have performed well in their time in the rotation. Chase Anderson could be optioned as well, but he has also shown improvement since a few tough starts in April. Jimmy Nelson isn't going anywhere, which leaves just one obvious candidate for demotion: Wily Peralta.
By performance alone, Peralta would be the most logical candidate. Let's look at the last five starts for each starter:
- Chase Anderson: 30.1 IP, 2.97 ERA
- Zach Davies: 30.1 IP, 2.97 ERA
- Junior Guerra: 30.1 IP, 2.67 ERA
- Jimmy Nelson: 32.2 IP, 3.03 ERA
- Wily Peralta: 25.0 IP, 6.84 ERA
Every starter other than Peralta is averaging at least six innings per start, and in those six innings, would be allowing an average of around two runs a start. Every one of those other starters has shown improvement and they have all earned their spot in the rotation.
There is one obvious argument against this, though. Since the Brewers are in rebuilding mode right now, performance doesn't matter as much. They can afford to take bad performances if it helps the team in the long term. As a result, keeping Peralta in the rotation can be justified, if he will benefit from remaining in the rotation. However, going back to last season, the results just haven't been there. In the last calendar year, he has pitched 111.1 innings and recorded a 5.98 ERA. Is there an advantage to keeping him in the rotation at this point?
The Brewers coaching staff sees a benefit, at least. Following yesterday's start, Craig Counsell said that they will stay on course with Peralta. Counsell wants to keep options available for the rotation, and Peralta's past success is evidence he can get better. However, right now the plan to fix Peralta is to not change anything. That's not a plan that inspires confidence. Jonathan Lucroy did mention a few things for Peralta to fix, but that's all that's in the plan for Peralta right now.
What could the Brewers do different? An option that has been brought up several times is to always start Martin Maldonado when Peralta starts. Peralta does pitch better with Maldonado behind the plate, but there's not as much of a difference as some would believe. Entering Sunday, Peralta's career ERA with Lucroy behind the plate is 4.34, compared to 4.11 with Maldonado. However, both have a .279 BAA, and the OPS allowed with Lucroy is actually better than Maldonado (.747 compared to .777). If you look at this season alone, there's a more noticeable difference (7.58 ERA with Lucroy, 5.97 ERA with Maldonado), but neither number is worth getting excited about. In addition, the batting average allowed (.368 to .363) and OPS allowed (.999 to .986) is closer as well. It's worth noting as well that adding Maldonado to the lineup is an overall loss for the offense, as it requires either Lucroy or Chris Carter (when Lucroy is at first base) to be placed on the bench for the day.
There is one argument for keeping Peralta in the rotation that does have some weight to it. Reading through yesterday's comments in the game recap, one commenter brought up the possibility of sending Zach Davies down long enough to get an extra year of team control from him. Davies entered the season with 34 days of service time, and spent just under two weeks in the minors to start the season. That's enough time to ensure he doesn't get a full year of service time, but not enough to get another year of control. Davies would need at least three more weeks in the minors to push that free agency date out, probably a month for safety. It's a tough hit to take considering Davies' recent improvement, but it's one that could be justified.
Another possibility that could be considered (and was brought up during yesterday's broadcast) is the possibility of a six-man rotation. That would help control some of the younger guys' innings a little and no one has to get demoted. If the Brewers were in a streak with no off-days, that would be more realistic. However, the upcoming schedule will make that more difficult. There are several off-days scheduled in the next few weeks. With a six-man rotation, you're looking at more than a week between starts at one point. That's not good for guys who are used to pitching every five days. It could hurt the rotation more than it helps.
The final option is to just send Peralta to Colorado Springs, or maybe even Biloxi. Since he has a minor-league option available, there's no risk to losing him on waivers. He could work with one of the affiliates and hopefully get back to normal in an environment where he could find success. Having good performances against minor-league teams is better than going out there day after day and giving up several runs each time. This could also conceivably be accomplished through placing Peralta on the disabled list (elbow soreness? shoulder stiffness? general fatigue?) and allowing him to work some minor league "rehab starts" to see if he can get through some of his issues.
A decision is looming in the near future. Matt Garza will be back and a roster spot will be needed. Wily Peralta may want to work out his problems in the majors, but there's four other pitchers in the rotation right now that have proven themselves. Staying the course hasn't helped so far. It may be time for a bigger change to happen.