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Freddy Peralta earns spot in Brewers' starting rotation
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Freddy Peralta earns spot in Brewers' starting rotation

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PHOENIX — Freddy Peralta is heading back to the Milwaukee Brewers’ starting rotation.

The young right-hander has been impressive this spring, posting a 1.08 ERA while striking out 15 batters and walking only three over 8⅓ innings. He had a five-strikeout performance earlier this week against the Seattle Mariners.

“His last start was a great example of him pitching like a starting pitcher,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “The rhythm of the game, the pitches he used, the weapons he had for different hitters, different handedness of hitters — just really a complete step up from a couple years ago when he had to rely on the fastball, essentially.”

Peralta relied primarily on his fastball with an occasional curveball when he broke into the big leagues in 2018. As hitters began to figure him out, Peralta’s effectiveness fluctuated. After struggling out of the gate as a starter in 2019, he was used in a number of different roles, including a brief stint as a closer en route to a 5.29 ERA in 39 appearances.

Those struggles inspired Peralta to add a slider to his repertoire, a process that began in winter ball. His work paid off in 2020 as he posted a 3.99 ERA in 15 appearances (one start) with 47 strikeouts in 29⅓ innings.

To build on that, Peralta spent this offseason adding another pitch to his mix: a changeup. He hopes it will generate more weak contact and more ground balls while making his fastball, which averaged 93 mph last season, look even faster.

“It’s going to help me a lot,” Peralta said. “Hitters are going to see fastball, then changeup and I am preparing my other pitches, like my breaking ball. Then I’ll be able to use the fastball and it will look even harder.”

Peralta was 20, just three years removed from signing as a 17-year-old international free agent, and had never played above Rookie ball when the Brewers acquired him along with 19-year-old pitchers Daniel Missaki and Carlos Herrera from the Mariners in December 2015.

He rose quickly through the Brewers’ system and earned his major league debut in 2018 when Chase Anderson fell sick and was scratched late before a game in Colorado. Peralta was scheduled to start that day for the Brewers’ Class AAA affiliate in Colorado Springs but instead, took the mound for the Brewers and set a franchise record for a rookie by striking out 13 batters.

The Brewers knew that Peralta would need time to develop. After his rough 2019, they remained encouraged by his progress and signed him to a five-year, $15.5 million contract extension last spring.

“He’s worked really hard to get to this place and I think he’s had a great spring,” Counsell said. “He’s added things to his game that I think give him a chance of (having) a great, great season.”

Peralta will be Milwaukee’s fifth starter to begin the season. Brandon Woodruff and Corbin Burnes will start the first two games, followed by right-hander Adrian Houser and left-hander Brett Anderson. Right-hander Josh Lindblom will work out of the bullpen to start the season.

Counsell expects Lindblom to return to a starting role at some point. Counsell thinks using him in a multi-inning relief role, similar to late last season, will help Lindblom’s effectiveness.

“Josh is going to pitch a lot of innings for us,” Counsell said. “I think he’s capable of pitching a lot of innings and we’re going to lean on him for that. He’s not going to start one of the first five games. After that, who knows?

“He pitched out of the pen at the end of last year, so he’s game for it. He knows what he has to do.”

On the field

Brett Anderson struck out three and drove in a run with second-inning single as the Brewers and Giants played to a 2-2 tie Thursday night at Scottsdale Stadium.

In what was likely his last start before the regular season, Anderson worked into the sixth inning and allowed two runs on a home run by LaMonte Wade Jr while striking out three without walking a batter.

Anderson made five Cactus League appearances and went 1-1 with a 2.35 ERA while striking out 12 with just two walks in 15 1/3 innings.

"He pitched well," Counsell said. "I thought he located everything well. He had everything working, great pace. Got him into the sixth inning so we really accomplished everything we needed to. He’s had a real nice spring."

Brent Suter worked 1 1/3 scoreless innings with two strikeouts while right-hander Ray Black hit 99 on the radar gun in his return to the mound after battling through some elbow inflammation.

"He was sharp for the first time out in about two weeks. He was sharp, he threw the ball really well."

After Wade put the Giants ahead in the top of the second, Corey Ray made it a 2-1 game in the bottom of the inning and later scored the tying run when Anderson singled to center.

From the infirmary

Third baseman Travis Shaw was pulled from Thursday's game as a precautionary measure after fouling a pitch off his leg but isn't expected to miss any time.

"It was just a bruise on his shin," Counsell said. "It was starting to swell up so we got him out of there."

Added to Milwaukee's roster earlier this month after returning to the team on a minor league contract, Shaw is batting .171 (6-for-35) with two home runs, seven RBIs and a .726 OPS.

On deck

Peralta gets his final Cactus League start Friday when the Brewers host the White Sox at American Family Fields of Phoenix. He'll be matched up against Chicago left-hander Carlos Rodon, who has struck out 10 in nine scoreless innings this spring and whiffed five Diamondbacks batters over four innings in his last outing.

Around the horn

Outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. has been sidelined by a sore wrist the past few days but took batting practice Thursday. He will go through a full workout Friday and is scheduled to return to the lineup Saturday when the Brewers face the Kansas City Royals. ... Counsell said the team was having discussions with veteran right-hander Jordan Zimmermann, who is in camp as a non-roster invitee on a minor league contract. The Auburndale native, 34, has appeared in four games this spring and posted a 6.00 ERA with three strikeouts in six innings. ... Second baseman Kolten Wong carried a five-game hitting streak into Thursday night’s game against the San Francisco Giants. Wong is hitting.500 (7-for-14) during that stretch with three home runs and four RBIs.

Here’s everything you need to know as Milwaukee Brewers kick off spring training in Arizona


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