Peralta bringing good vibes to first Opening Day nod

February 23rd, 2024

PHOENIX -- and his family spent part of the offseason relaxing on the beaches of Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic, located around 50 miles north of his home in Moca.

They vacationed to different parts of the island a few times, he said, and sometimes they simply chilled on the banks of rivers close to home.

In the search for tranquility after a long season, Peralta found his peace of mind. He is determined to carry the good vibes and calm mental approach into the 2024 season, his first as the staff ace.

“We are counting on him this year, and he is going to be our Opening Day starter,” Brewers general manager Matt Arnold said. “Those are big shoes to fill based on the guys that we've had in the past, but he's got every ingredient to do it. He's such a good person. He's such a good leader on the field, in work habits, and then off the field in everything he does. I couldn't think of a better guy to honor with the Opening Day start.”

Peralta, who will pitch in a simulated game Saturday, is set to lead a starting pitching staff that also features Wade Miley and a list of candidates that includes Colin Rea, Aaron Ashby, Jakob Junis, Janson Junk, Joe Ross, DL Hall and Robert Gasser, who is not on the 40-man roster.

Peralta is up for the challenge.

“The most important thing for me is the mental side,” Peralta said in Spanish. “If I win or lose, if it goes great or if I don’t do well, I’m going to stay focused even when it gets uncomfortable and stressful.

“I just remember that I have two kids and my wife waiting for me at home, sometimes my parents, and because my family is always with me, that helps. When your child embraces you and is so happy that you are home, you feel good all over again. Everything goes away and you start fresh.”

Last season, Peralta led the club with 210 strikeouts, won a career-high 12 games and had a 3.86 ERA in a career-high 30 starts. He went from 78 innings during an injury-shortened 2022 to a career-high 165 2/3 innings in ‘23. The right-hander also held opponents to a .212 batting average and produced a career-high 16 quality starts.

Peralta was also named National League Pitcher of the Month in August after posting a 5-0 record with 46 strikeouts and a 2.10 ERA in 30 innings.

“I do understand what the expectations are and what people are saying about me this year, but for me, I just have to do what I have to do,” Peralta said in Spanish. “I can’t think about being No. 1 or anything like that. I have to focus and give the best every time I’m on the mound. Do my job.”

Expect to see Peralta pitching in the club’s biggest games in 2024. He started Game 2 of the Wild Card Series against the D-backs and went from working on a no-hitter with a 2-0 lead and two outs in the fifth inning, to trailing, 3-2, with no outs in the sixth inning in the Brewers’ season-ending 5-2 loss.

Peralta has a 3.46 ERA in four postseason games, including two starts, spanning 13 innings. He has 17 strikeouts in that span.

“He doesn't even know how good he is. He has no idea,” Brewers manager Pat Murphy said. “Sometimes, he probably just tries to do too much, but he just needs to be Freddy. A good version is what we need consistently.”

The 27-year-old has already come a long way. Peralta’s journey and the impact baseball has had on his life is documented in Freddy Peralta’s Dominican Pride: Moca to the Majors, a long-form video that was recorded by the club’s in-house team when the staff was in the Dominican Republic for the opening of the team’s new facility.

“The kid has been through it,” Murphy said. “You can’t hear that story and go through that and not love that kid. I love this kid. He’s a beautiful human being and that goes beyond baseball.”

Peralta is keeping everything in perspective. He knows it will be the key to his success when the regular season starts on March 28 against the Mets in New York.

“This year, I just asked God to stay healthy the entire year like last year and have the same or even more success than in 2023,” Peralta said. “I need to stay healthy and do what I can to help this team get as far as we can go.”