It’s July 8, the Yankees are nine GB of the division, and Wandy Peralta brings his ERA up to 5.26 and then promptly hits the IL. It seemed like he would become an afterthought and just be relegated to being optioned. The Yankees had every reason to give up on Peralta right then and there. They had internal options pitching better, and Joely Rodriguez seemed to emerge as the replacement for Peralta.
He returned in August, and was lined up to…start a game against the Mariners. That became the beginning of Peralta’s brilliant run. The question Yankee fans have on their minds; how did he turn everything around?
Back to the Basics
One of the most simple yet effective pitch sequences is the fastball-changeup sequence. Speed up or slow down the bat with pitches that mirror well to get soft contact or whiffs. Peralta has always used his chanegup, but in August? He’s at a 60% changeup usage. To pair with that is his sinker, which he used at a 31.7% rate in August as well. Here’s how they mirror:
While in vertical movement, Wandy’s changeup has more drop than the sinker (28.9 inches of drop vs 20.6), his horizontal movement on those pitches are withing 0.5 inches of each other. Throw in a 6.8 MPH difference in velocity and you end up with a combined .207 wOBA on that combination.
Limiting Worse Pitches
Peralta has all but erased the usage of his 4-seam fastball, having only thrown 3 in the entire month of August, which is most likely because of how it was a horrific pitch that boasted a .548 wOBA against. His slider usage is down too, as it was at ~30% in his career and now in August it’s 5.8%.
He’s now a two pitch pitcher looking to use deception to get outs, and it has led to his ERA as a Yankee going down to 3.25 with a 3.99 SIERA. His 75 ERA- is only 3 point worse than Chad Green, 4 points worse than Lucas Luetge, and (get this) 5 points worse than Gerrit Cole. He’s been great! To think I and many other were upset about trading an outfielder who has been brutal this year for him.
I don’t think Peralta stays at a 3.25 ERA, but he’s come a long way. He’s gotten big outs in big games, and his book isn’t closed. I don’t know how often he’ll be used down the stretch, but we’re lucky to have him along for the ride.