MILWAUKEE — A lack of command and a few fluky plays were a recipe for disaster early in the season for Wily Peralta. His emotions would get the best of him and the rookie would be done in by a big inning or two.
Peralta didn’t have his best command Monday and his defense made a couple of errors behind him, but he stayed poised and found a way to fight through six innings without allowing an earned run. Sure, the Brewers were pleased with a 6-1 victory over the Cubs, but Peralta’s continued mental and physical progression was the game’s major takeaway.
“His command wasn’t as good as we’ve seen it the last few games,” Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. “He still got us there though and didn’t give up many runs. I think that’s really important when he doesn’t have his best command that he can still keep us in the game and he did.
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“(Earlier this season) it would really get away from him and you would see the big innings. Hopefully this is a good sign that when he gets like this he’s still going to keep us there and not allow them to get a lot.”
When Peralta struggled at times this season it was because the 24-year-old couldn’t overcome nights when he didn’t have his best stuff. He knew it, his personal catcher Martin Maldonado knew it and Roenicke knew it.
Peralta began working at controlling his emotions on the mound and moving on to the next pitch if something didn’t go his way. With the help of Maldonado, Peralta has turned his season around.
The recipe for a rough start was brewing early, as the Cubs had two on with one out in the first inning. After Cubs right fielder Nate Schierholtz fouled back a pair of 3-2 fastballs, Peralta went to his slider and struck him out while Maldonado caught Luis Valbuena stealing third to end the inning.
Peralta walked the leadoff hitter in the second but got a big double play ball to get out of the frame without allowing a run.
“I was a little bit out of rhythm early,” Peralta said. “I just had to get back to the dugout and calm down a little bit. When I was warming up I started getting my rhythm back and then I found it and started pitching better after that.”
There were times this season where Peralta wouldn’t have been able to realize he needed to calm down and probably wouldn’t have made it out of the third inning. But he settled in Monday to allow just an unearned run despite a couple of errors putting runners on in the middle innings.
That’s not to say Peralta didn’t show emotion, but he got it out and didn’t let it carry over to the next hitter.
“You can see a little bit of (emotion) out there today, but it may last for a pitch and he gets back into it,” Roenicke said. “When you talk about progression and development of a player you see that emotionally. You see what happens and if they are able to regroup. I don’t have any problem with a guy getting mad. It’s how fast can you let go of it.
“I think Wily is getting better at that. Some other guys, you will see them strike out and they go out to the field and when they come off the field they are mad a gain. Well, they aren’t letting go of it. In this game you have to.”
Peralta was able to knock one of his personal goals off Monday by winning the 10th game of his rookie season, but he was equally pleased to see the fruits of his labor pay off on the mound. Peralta has the stuff to be a very good pitcher when his command is on, but the really good pitchers are able to keep their teams in games when they are off.
“That’s something that I’ve been working the whole season on,” Peralta said. “Early on that kind of situation I wasn’t able to get out of it. After that I think I’ve been making progress and I’ve been pitching better. Those kind of things I have to settle down and make one pitch at a time.”
Though he’s certainly done enough to earn a spot in next year’s rotation, Peralta is focused on finishing strong. His ERA was 6.35 on June 1 and he’s been able to lower it to 4.34 with four solid months.
Monday marked Peralta’s fourth quality start in a row and lowered his ERA in September to 2.89. Development of young players is something the Brewers can take away from an otherwise lost season and Peralta’s name tops the list in those who have made the biggest strides.
“I want to finish the season strong and get ready for next year,” Peralta said. “It was a rough season for me early, but I think the second half has been better. To finish the season like this is good.”