One of the most consistent parts of the New York Yankees over the past few seasons has been the bullpen. General manager Brian Cashman has repeatedly found strong arms through many different outlets to help aid one of the most crucial parts of a World Series-hopeful baseball team. Wandy Peralta was a critical relief pitcher over the last two seasons, specifically in the 2022 Major League Baseball season.
Peralta had a very strong season. Manager Aaron Boone trusted him in plenty of scenarios against some of the best hitters in the league. The 30-year-old left-hander is a vital part of the Yankees pitching staff. The grade he receives in these report cards is high for a good reason.
2022 Statistics: 56 games (1 start), 56.1 innings pitched, 2.72 ERA, 2.86 FIP, 3.61 xFIP, 7.6% BB, 21.1% K, 1.05 WHIP, 1.0 WAR
2023 Contract Status: 3rd-year arbitration eligible, free agent after 2024
Peralta is a unique pitcher. Why the Yankees love to use him so much in high-leverage situations is his ability to induce groundballs with the pitches his singular arsenal. In terms of usage, he throws a changeup and sinker as his two primary pitches, with a slider and a four-seam fastball as his other two. His 53.9% groundball rate was one of the best of his career, and it provides the Yankees bullpen more diversity and groundball insurance in case their other pitchers of the same archetype go down for one reason or another.
Despite being placed on the 15-day injured list in the middle of September, Peralta was able to make it back in time for the American League Division Series against the Cleveland Guardians, where he pitched in all five games. He contributed six crucial innings pitched and posted a 3.00 ERA with seven strikeouts. He was the first pitcher in Yankees history to appear in all five games of the Division Series. Peralta also pitched well in 2.2 innings in the ALCS versus the Astros.
The Dominican Republic native was a workhorse in the postseason, and probably the most impressive postseason stat is that he gave up only one walk. Peralta’s regular season walk rate was also remarkable, so he was given chances when the bases were loaded, or multiple runners were on. He was the ultimate swiss army knife in the bullpen. Boone could call on him for one inning or more, in the ninth or earlier, against lefties or righties, and with runners on or in a clean inning.
Since the Yankees acquired Peralta from the San Francisco Giants in exchange for Mike Tauchman (who has since been DFA’d for those who forgot), he has been one of the most impactful pieces of the always-formidable Yankee relief corps. He’s been excellent for two years, and the Yankees stand to enjoy his production for at least one more season, before Peralta hits free agency at the end of 2023.
The 2022 season for the Yankees bullpen was tumultuous, to say the least. Injuries to impactful relievers like Michael King forced other hurlers into positions they may not have had to deal with before. Peralta carried the load, and was a foundation that Boone and pitching coach Matt Blake could build upon. The Yankees simply could not have asked for much more from him.