Next year will be better. He looked good when he was healthy. He’s still pretty young. What if he finally puts it all together?
In any sport, every sport, you’ve undoubtedly heard these words. Their intention isn’t to bring false hope, even if they sometimes do. Their intention isn’t to tease, even though they surely do. Their intention isn’t to ring hollow, but there’s a catch: someone is always on the receiving end; these words hinge on that someone.
Before they become canned responses to struggles, they are expectations. Before they become cliches lost in what’s become of one’s career, they are visions of a career that may never be. Before they become obsolete, they are too readily attached.
It happens in any sport, every sporta��and a man who’s been on the other end of all these words is Milwaukee Brewer’s pitcher Wily Peralta. For one reason more than any other, it’s important to note Peralta is still just 27 years old. That reason:
Because even though he’s just been optioned to Triple A, it’s still very much a possibility he pans out, becomes a contributing pitcher, puts it all together, and so on. Taking that question one step further, though:
What if he doesn’t?
That, I believe, is more likely.
That isn’t to say Peralta doesn’t have a spot on this team, but whether that’s in the near future or a little ways down the road, we don’t know. The hard-throwing righty, signed as an amateur free agent out of the Dominican Republic at 16 years old, is still very inexpensive. Peralta is making $2.8 million this season and isn’t eligible for free agency until 2019.
But as the Brewers continue their rebuild, a spot may not await Peralta when he gets back. While Jimmy Nelson and Zach Davies continue to give us glimpses of the future, the Brewers continue stocking their now top-notch farm system. Matt Garza won’t be there much longer, Chase Anderson is still controllable for a little while, and Junior Guerra hasn’t racked up a ton of mileage. Of course there’s something to be said about Taylor Jungmann, but that’s a story for another day.
So while I’d say if, on this team I know he’ll get another chance well before the year is up. It just maybe shouldn’t come as a starter.
Peralta has routinely dealt with command issues, and even when he’s been healthy for a whole season, he’s rarely been effective. He also doesn’t seem to be able to throw more than two pitches routinely, and can’t regularly control those anyway. But he comfortably throws 94-95, almost 96. He doesn’t turn 28 years old until next May.
With velocity like that, maybe a bullpen role would be more beneficial. But really: Wily’s always struggled. Even in his best season (2014), multiple numbers told a different story. He logged 198.2 innings, a career high, and finished with a 3.53 ERAa��a career best. But his FIP (4.08) and DRA (5.96) painted an entirely different picture. Even his BABIP (.295) was slightly below league average rather than incredibly unlucky. Wily Peralta was managing to get runners out while limiting the damage. Many thought this was the turning point. The beginning. Finally, Wily Peralta was going to blossom.
After 2014, the damage became far greater. During an injury-plagued 2015, Peralta’s numbers were noticeably worse than his pre-breakout season. This season, with just 66 innings of work to his name, the numbers have become unrecognizable: 6.68 ERA, 5.60 FIP, 5.7 K/9, 3.7 K/9, and an absolutely staggering DRA of 8.06a��raising that career mark all the way up to 6.19 in just under 600 innings of major league work. And it sure as hell won’t get any easier in Colorado Springs. Just ask Taylor Jungmann.
But what if?
Right now we’re allowed to hang onto that, even if it’s misguided. Brewers fans have the time to, even though results have been screaming otherwise for five years. So while Wily Peralta gets straightened out in Triple A, we’ll wait. Even if he doesn’t, we’ll wait. We’ll wonder what if. We’ll go back to 2014. We’ll look towards the future.
Because Wily’s only 27 years old and in any sport, every sport, we’re told that means something.