Peralta's struggles give Brewers relief dilemma

June 20th, 2017
In nine relief appearances this season, Brewers right-hander Wily Peralta has a 10.54 ERA. (AP)

MILWAUKEE -- Brewers starter-turned-reliever is "frustrated" with his poor results out of the bullpen. From the sound of it, he is not alone.

Brewers manager Craig Counsell minced no words in assessing Peralta's performance after the right-hander surrendered four runs in the seventh inning of Monday's 8-1 loss to the Pirates. Peralta's ERA since being bumped from the starting rotation ticked up to 10.54, and he has a 2.20 WHIP in nine appearances out of the 'pen.

The Brewers have been patient, hoping Peralta's power fastball will eventually play in relief. But Counsell conceded Monday night that "it's getting tough."

"Wily's struggling. He's definitely struggling," Counsell said. "We're all kind of searching for answers, and obviously we haven't found any yet. So at this point, we have to keep searching and try to find some answers for him."

Why have the Brewers been patient for this long with Peralta? For starters, they think his raw velocity should be a plus in short stints out of the bullpen. His two-seam fastball -- Peralta's best pitch -- averaged a season-high 97.4 mph on Monday, which was little consolation given the result.

Past results are also in play. After he was demoted to the Minor Leagues last season, Peralta returned in August and reclaimed his spot in the Brewers' starting rotation with a 2.92 ERA over his final 10 starts.

"I think we're having to realize this is a transition," Counsell said. "We're hoping that we can, at some point, make progress with it. We haven't made any progress up to this point. I think that [the idea that Peralta will improve once he settles into relief] is the one thing we're holding onto a little bit.

"But frankly, it's getting tough. That's kind of where we're at with it. We're getting the big velocity that we thought we'd get. The last couple of nights, we got it. But obviously, there's still some hard contact. A lot of hard contact."

Peralta took over from Matt Garza with the Brewers facing a 4-1 deficit and retired both batters he faced to end the sixth inning. The seventh was a different matter, though. Peralta faced seven hitters and retired only one of them, allowing four runs on five hits and a walk.

The rally started with a single by Pirates pitcher , who stepped to the plate with an .083 batting average.

"I'm having a hard time getting people out," Peralta said. "It feels like early last year. Every inning it feels like it takes me 40 pitches to get one out. It hasn't been easy. I'm frustrated right now. Only thing I can do is keep working hard."

Peralta said the problem is location and rhythm, the latter of which is contributing to "flat" pitches. That is especially problematic with his sinker, which is supposed to be low in the strike zone.

"I just have to make quick adjustments out of the bullpen," Peralta said. "That's a little bit different. But I've been in this situation before. Just working hard, that's the only way you get out of it."

Peralta is out of Minor League options. One possible alternative, should the Brewers make a move, is left-hander , who started Triple-A Colorado Springs' game on Monday and was removed after 42 pitches, but is not hurt.