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Yankees 2023 Season Preview: Wandy Peralta

After a breakout season in 2022, can Peralta keep it going and anchor the Yankees’ bullpen this year?

Division Series - Cleveland Guardians v New York Yankees - Game Five Photo by New York Yankees/Getty Images

The April 2021 trade that brought Wandy Peralta to the Bronx wasn’t exactly a blockbuster. The main thing discussed wasn’t even that Peralta came over; it was the debate about Mike Tauchman heading out.

After a breakout 2019 season as part of the Yankees’ “Next Man Up” squad, Tauchman had regressed in 2020 and then got off to a bad start in 2021. With him near the bottom of the Yankees’ depth chart of outfielders, they decided to ship Tauchman out. In return, they got Peralta — a reliever who had been fairly meh up to that point of his career and had similarly been less than stellar to start 2021. Although Tauchman didn’t exactly light things up in San Francisco, Peralta had an ERA over five through July 2021. The trade seem destined to be a fairly uninteresting one all around.

Now, nearly two years later, Peralta has become an important part of the Yankees’ bullpen and a beloved member of the roster.

2022 Statistics: 56 games played, 56.1 innings, 2.72 ERA, 2.86 FIP, 21.1 K%, 7.6 BB%, 1.0 fWAR

2023 FanGraphs ZiPS Projections: 54 games played, 51.7 innings, 3.48 ERA, 3.77 FIP, 21.7 K%, 8.8 BB%, 0.2 fWAR

Before his genuinely strong 2022, Peralta started to show signs over the last couple months of 2021. As mentioned, he ended July of ‘21 with an ERA of over five, having hit the COVID injured list in early July. He returned on August 6th, and from that point on, he had a 1.42 ERA in 25.1 innings. He went from random back of the bullpen guy to a player the Yankees had reasons to keep around for 2022.

In 2022, he became an invaluable part of the bullpen. While he started the season still towards the back end of the bullpen, he didn’t end it there. Between a combination of injuries to others and Peralta showing himself to be pretty good and reliable, he worked his way into a bigger role as the season went along. The biggest example of how far he had risen came in the playoffs, when he became the first ever pitcher to appear in all five games of a Division Series. He threw a total of six innings over the course of the series, and also was credited with a save in the crucial Game 4 win, which kept the series alive. He didn’t get the save in Game 5 with the Yankees up four runs, but he was the man on the mound as the Yankees got the final outs to advance past the Guardians.

Now going into 2023, Peralta is seen as an important piece of the bullpen, and the questions are whether or not he can keep up what he’s done over the last 1.5 seasons. Relievers come out of nowhere or fall out of favor over the course of one season all the time. While having some faith in Peralta is obviously warranted, it wouldn’t be crazy if he regressed a bit this season.

That being said, there’s also reason to think that Peralta can replicate what he did last going forward. His peripherals were generally not far off what he actually allowed in 2022.

Baseball Savant

While he didn’t have a ton of success prior to coming to the Yankees, there’s also some fairly obvious changes he’s made to the way he’s pitched since the trade.

Baseball Savant

Mixing up his pitch usage seemed to unlock something in Peralta, and there’s plenty of reasons to think that’ll keep him on that track going forward.

Especially last year, Peralta emerged as an entertaining character and an easy guy to root for. It would be very fun if he could continue his success into 2023, not to mention crucial for Yankee pitching staff that’s taken some hits this spring.