2023 MLB Fantasy: What to Make of Brewers SP Freddy Peralta’s Odd Start

Freddy Peralta of the Milwaukee Brewers

There have been a number of MLB starting pitchers with past success that have struggled in the 2023 season. However, very few have been as puzzling as former NL All-Star Freddy Peralta. The Brewers right-hander’s looked like a dominant force for half of the 2023 campaign thus far, and statistically one of the worst in the other. So, what should fantasy owners do with Peralta? Let’s take a closer look at the 27-year-old first.

Related: Where Does Rangers SP Jacob deGrom Go From Here?

A Look at Peralta

It’s safe to say that from a statistical standpoint, the 2023 season has been a weird one for Freddy Peralta. The 27-year-old right-hander broke out two seasons ago with the Brewers, when Peralta struck out 195 batters over 144.1 IP and pitched in the 2021 All-Star game for the National League. Last season, Peralta was limited to just 78 innings to a strained right late and right shoulder inflammation.

Peralta came out of the gate strong this season, as he struck out 14 over his first two starts (12 IP) and gave up just one run in the process. Then, things took a turn for the righty. Peralta gave up nine runs over his next two starts (10.2 IP), then followed it up with three strong outings. It looked like the Brewers right-hander was back on the right track before the wheels shortly thereafter. From May 15-June 1, Peralta gave up eleven walks, 16 earned runs (7.32 ERA), and 25 hits over four starts (19.2 IP). Among starters, only Graham Ashcraft of the Reds owned a worse ERA (10.20) over that stretch (min. 15 IP).

When on his game, Peralta can run four solid offerings — a four-seamer, curveball, slider, and changeup — out on the mound that can beat hitters. This year, Peralta’s fastball seen improved velocity. Peralta’s fastball has sat in the 94-96 MPH range, a couple of ticks above his norms from each of the past two seasons. He’s also used his slider more, albeit out of necessity.

Peralta’s curveball — usually a reliable third offering — has been widely inconsistent. Normally a pitch he can run in on righties or down from left-handers, Peralta’s command with the pitch has not been sharp and he’s left it low and in, but over the plate, to lefties often. Here’s an example of that from earlier this year when Alex Verdugo laced a double to right off the curve:

In his most recent start against the Orioles, Peralta looked much better. The 27-year-old struck out nine and didn’t walk a batter for the first time since April 26 against the Tigers. He did give up two runs, both of which were courtesy of an Aaron Hicks home run. And, it was off a curveball low and in that Hicks turned on.

2023 Fantasy Outlook

Problems with both his curveball and changeup — a pitch that’s also seen a jump in velocity, but less differential in speed compared to his fastball than last year and poorer results this season — have turned Peralta’s 2023 into a boondoggle.

The 27-year-old’s still getting plenty of strikeouts and whiffs from his stuff. Among the 107 pitchers that have thrown at least 750 pitchers this season — which equates to about at least eight starts — Peralta’s 30.0% Whiff% rate is 16th-best in the league and actually a tick ahead of AL strikeout leader Kevin Gausman‘s whiff rate.

However, his command troubles and issues with the curveball and changeup have not only made him vulnerable against left-handed hitters, but also a riskier option in H2H and roto leagues. Still, fantasy owners need to hold on to Peralta. He’s too good to let go and we’ve seen flashes this season of what he can do. And if his last start against the O’s is any indication, Peralta can still be a strong option moving forward.

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