Milwaukee Brewers Were Negligent, Irresponsible with Wily Peralta in 2013

Wily Peralta

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

In spring training of 2013, the Milwaukee Brewers exhibited reckless and careless behavior in their handling of Wily Peralta.

Last March, Peralta was a 23-year-old righty poised to break camp with the big league club. Yet, despite the promise of a powerful young starter with a bright future, the Brewers treated him like a two-month rental.

In his third start of the spring, Peralta threw only 28 pitches in a six-inning start. Five days later, the Brewers allowed Peralta to throw 91 pitches in 5.1 innings. Thus, on regular rest in March, the Brewers’ best, young arm tossed 63 more balls than he had in his previous start.

That is absolutely insane, dumb and any other negative adjective you want to add. It simply should never happen.

It’s no wonder Peralta’s ERA in April was 5.02 to go with a 1.465 WHIP. His May was even worse, sporting a 7.71 ERA and 2.00 WHIP in six starts.

That shocking jolt of added force to the arm certainly sapped Peralta’s strength and set back his physical readiness for the season. Most pitchers do go through a “dead arm” period as their body resets but then come back stronger. In Peralta’s case, his arm essentially went back to the starting line at the end of March and made the entire two opening months a nightmare.

The Brewers are fortunate he didn’t end up on the disabled list with a tear, a strain or any number of problems that could have easily occurred with the sudden, increased workload. Then, in another mind-boggling decision, he threw 81 pitches in a game just five days later. This time he only lasted 4.1 frames in his outing.

Sure, the total number of tosses went down, but his pitches per inning actually went up from 17.1 to 18.7 in that final start. As much as overall pitches can take a toll, the stress put on an arm within a single inning often has a greater negative effect. On both counts, manager Ron Roenicke and the coaches were foolish and thoughtless in their approach.

Prepping a pitcher for the opening of the season is a challenge, and it’s something trainers and coaches struggle with each year. I’m more of the old-school belief that pitchers should be throwing a lot while new-school arguments favor less pitches early in a career. Either way, nearly everyone agrees that building up a pitcher’s arm strength and stamina is a gradual, calculated process.

No pitcher should be throwing 50 pitches on his first day or increasing his pitch total from 28 to 91 in a five-day span in March.

Assuming there wasn’t any long-term damage or the onset of continuous arm issues caused by the Brewers’ negligence, Milwaukee’s staff appears to have dodged a major bullet with a talented starting pitcher.

For Peralta’s sake and the rest of the Milwaukee hurlers, let’s hope the Brewers are little smarter in 2014.

Tim Muma is a Milwaukee Brewers writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on  Twitter @brewersblend, “Like” him on Facebook, or add him to your network on Google.

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  • backlash_wi

    Peralta had a bad start to the year because the 23-year-old threw 91 pitches in a spring training game? That’s taking the pitch-count frenzy to quite an extreme. Perhaps he had a slow start because he was a rookie learning to pitch in the bigs!

    • Tim Muma

      Thanks for your comment. You should have seen in the article, I prefer guys to throw more pitches. However, having coached at the high school and collegiate levels, proper building up of an arm is important in a gradual progression in the preseason. Something like 15, 30-35, 40-45, 60-65, then 80-plus.
      The number itself (91) isn’t the issue. It’s the sudden increase from 23 to 28 to 91 in his fourth spring start. Ramping up to that extent is akin to throwing 40 in-game pitches on your first day.
      Also, pitches per inning is important. In those two starts he was at 17 and 18 per inning. Too many, too quickly. I have no problem with a guy throwing 125 pitches in 9 innings, as that’s less than 14 each frame. It was foolish and adversely affected him, plain and simple.

  • Conner David Boyd

    What an idiotic article. The Brewers’ medical staff is top notch, and any sign of injury or even discomfort for Peralta would have put him on the DL. It was his rookie season and he had some bad starts to begin the year, but just in case you didn’t notice, he was quite impressive in the back half of the season. It wasn’t a matter of being negligent or irresponsible…it was a matter of Peralta taking the lumps and getting used to pitching in the majors. He’s gone through more than a few variations in pitch counts to warrant any kind of worry or blame upon Milwaukee’s coaching staff. Completely ridiculous.

    • Tim Muma

      I’m sorry to hear you disagree and fail to understand the number of components involved. If you’ve played and/or coached, you know that injury and discomfort don’t often occur when you’re speaking about fatigue or “dead arm.” You feel the same, but the ball doesn’t have the same velocity. It also affects how well you can command your pitches where you want. Think of trying to throw when your arm is “asleep,” but there’s nothing to tell you it’s asleep.
      While the Brewers medical staff may be “top notch,” people make mistakes, miss signs of problems, etc. That includes the medical staff and coaching staff.
      Also, having interviewed pro athletes and worked around the Brewers, players lie and fail to divulge information because they know it can cost them playing time and money. Most are extremely paranoid about wasting their opportunity because of some “minor issue” – especially early in their careers. Do you think if Peralta was worried about missing the first part of the season and possibly losing a rotation spot he would admit to everything he’s feeling?

  • Tim Muma

    Again, being an athlete myself and playing/coaching with high school and college baseball players, I have played with injuries I shouldn’t have and not reported everything I should. Teammates and players I’ve coached have done the same.

    Is there a learning curve for a rookie in the majors? Of course. However, I’ll reiterate, an arm must be properly built up to decrease the chance of injury and increase his effectiveness. Pushing an arm from 28-91 in a game situation is irresponsible. I like Peralta a lot and yes, he pitched well in the second half – when his arm began to catch up and build up, coupled with his experience.

  • Conner David Boyd

    Watch out guys, he’s coached in high school. He must know all about Wily Peralta’s arm, which has never been a problem in his professional career.