Joel Peralta’s Dandy Season | The Process Report

Joel Peralta’s Dandy Season

You have to look beyond the surface to appreciate how well Joel Peralta has pitched this season.

Peralta entered a game against the Red Sox on April 13. In his most recent outing, he had allowed two runs in an inning of work. On this day, Peralta would allow four runs without recording an out. Here, four appearances into the season, Peralta ensured that his seasonal numbers would never reflect his brilliance.

In the 47 appearances since, Peralta has completed 41-1/3 innings pitched. He’s allowed 28 baserunners, struck out 44 more than he walked, and yielded 11 runs, all while holding opponents to a .154/.188/.329 slash line. The best-kept secret about Peralta’s season, and Peralta in general, is his ability to miss bats without plus velocity. When you think late-inning relievers, you think great arm strength—like Jake McGee or Fernando Rodney. Peralta doesn’t throw as hard as those two, but he does miss as many bats:

Reliever Contact Rates, 2012

Pitcher

Contact%

Joel Peralta

68%

Fernando Rodney

68%

Kyle Farnsworth

70%

Wade Davis

73%

Jake McGee

74%

J.P. Howell

78%

Burke Badenhop

88%

In lieu of top-end velocity, Peralta succeeds with a combination of toughness and slyness—in short, he’s a bullfox. He pitches backward about half the time—starting 43 percent of his at-bats with a curve and another six percent with a splitter—and typically keeps his pitches away from the batter. But he has shown a willingness to elevate and challenge hitters.

Go back to Saturday night’s game and watch the Mark Trumbo at-bat for a full scope of how Peralta survives. He starts Trumbo off with a well-located fastball away, and then throws back-to-back splitters low and over the plate. Peralta knows, just as we all do, that Trumbo wants a fastball he can drive in those situations. Now, staring down a 1-2 count, Trumbo is undoubtedly thinking about the splitter again. Peralta takes advantage by throwing a 91 mph heater up and in and past a tardy bat.

A free agent at season’s end, Peralta could be in his final season with the Rays. True, Peralta has expressed his gratitude toward the organization, but as a 36-year-old journeyman this could be his first, and likely last, opportunity to cash in on his talents. Were that to happen, the Rays would have to find the next Peralta, although it’s not time to forget about the original just yet.



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