2023 Fantasy Baseball Breakout Pitcher: Can Freddy Peralta Be A Top-10 Starting Pitcher?
With our breakout hitter in the books, it’s time to turn our attention to starting pitching.
I’m not looking for an unknown sleeper here (we already covered some of those here). I’m really just looking for an under-the-radar pitcher in the middle rounds who can provide a massive value return, and ideally, be one of those league-winning players we all dream about. It’s one thing to draft a top-of-the-line starter (or two) to anchor your fantasy rotation.
Those guys are important building blocks. But they’re also not the guys who are going to win your league for you because you’re likely drafting them within the first three or four rounds and there isn’t much value to exceed on a player taken that early. The real players who help you win your league are the ones who you take in the middle rounds or later (anything after the 10th) and provide value that is multiple rounds above where you took them. There was a player who did exactly that for me in 2021, and I’m going back to the well again in 2023.
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Enter Freddy Peralta of the Milwaukee Brewers.
Still just 26 years old, Peralta can be had at an ADP of 145 as the 50th starting pitcher taken in drafts. Because he finished as a top-10 pitcher two years ago, I see a lot of opportunity here.
Peralta had an injury-plagued 2022 season in which he only started 17 games with a record of 4-4 with a 3.58 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, and 86 strikeouts in 78 innings. The year prior, he pitched 144 innings with a record of 10-5 with a 2.81 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, and 195 strikeouts.
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Was 2021 an anomaly? Perhaps. But we’re also talking about a guy who has thrown 11.7 strikeouts per nine innings and held opposing batters to a .195 batting average over his career. He also has four good pitches and has traditionally had a good strikeout/walk rate of over 30% so he doesn’t dig himself too many holes. If you’ve read anything I’ve written about pitchers, you’ll know that I’m always looking for pitchers (both starters and relievers) with a high K/9 rate and a high K/BB rate. Peralta checks both of those boxes for us.
The real worry with Peralta is whether or not he can hold up. He started his career as a middle reliever and has only thrown more than 85 innings once over five seasons (during that 2021 campaign). There’s a valid argument that Peralta is better served to be a middle reliever, but he can be an absolutely dominant starter when he’s healthy and it looks like the Brewers are going to try to make that happen if they can.
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Peralta will enter the season as the Brewers' third starter behind Corbin Burnes and Brandon Woodruff and should see his wins total benefit from being on a team that Vegas projects to win at least 85 games. That’s not exactly a juggernaut-type win total, but it should be enough to get Peralta into double-digit wins as long as he holds up.
There’s obviously a risk in taking a starter who may not throw more than 100 innings, but you don’t have to invest a ton in Peralta around the 150 range. And even if you only get 100 innings out of him in a Doomsday scenario where he gets hurts, you should be able to get good stats out of those 100 innings and can then just use his roster spot for another player to make up for whatever you lose.
We’re trying to take league-winning swings for the fences here, and Peralta is a player who provides league-winning upside.
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