With offense starting slow, it’s odd to find ace-like pitchers like Freddy Peralta struggling early in 2022. In the last week’s buy or sell installment, we discussed Tarik Skubal’s success and Ranger Suárez’s early troubles. This week, we’re examining two pitchers on opposite ends of the spectrum regarding name and fantasy value for redraft leagues. We’ll let the data guide the discussion in deciding whether to buy or sell these pitchers. Comment on the article, or hit me up on Twitter if you have a pitcher you’re curious about for future articles.
Buy or Sell – Freddy Peralta’s Struggles & Dylan Bundy’s Home Run Issues
Freddy Peralta (SP – MIL)
In Freddy Peralta’s breakout season in 2021, he posted a 2.81 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, 33.6% strikeout rate, and 9.7% walk rate. However, towards the end of the 2021 season, Peralta’s ERA increased with the BABIP and LOB% regressing. Before the season, I wrote three articles finding candidates to break out like Freddy Peralta.
The BABIP went from .174 to .363, plus the LOB% went from 85.9% to 66.8% from April to July 2021, then from August to September. Interestingly, the K-BB% improved from 23.2% to 25.6% due to the walk rate dropping from 11.2% to 5.6%. However, Peralta’s BABIP of .339 and LOB% of 62.1% in 2022 should regress for better ratios than a 5.09 ERA and 1.35 WHIP.
Peralta’s Arsenal & Results
It’s early, but the velocity on Peralta’s pitches dropped about a half mph, though that’s not significant. The arsenal usage remains similar to 2021, except for a slight increase in changeup usage.
Given the near-elite results on several pitches in 2021, Peralta’s pitches haven’t been as dominant. In 2021, three of Peralta’s pitches allowed a wOBA south of .285, and Peralta’s 2022 arsenal has a wOBA north of .340 on three pitches.
The zone rate dropped on all pitches except the changeup, plus the slider is giving up more zone contact. In 2021, four pitches elicited a double-digit swinging-strike rate that changed in 2022, though not significantly. Most notably, the four-seamer and slider SwStr% went down. However, the curve and changeup have allowed less zone contact plus elicited a higher swinging-strike rate. The data could lead us to buy more than sell moving forward.
Peralta relied on the four-seamer and slider, in 2021, against right-handed hitters but increased the curveball usage by about four percent. Meanwhile, Peralta also increased the four-seamer usage by over 9%. The changeup usage increased nearly four percent against righties. Also, the whiff rate on the four-seamer got cut in half, and the slider usage dipped almost 20% compared to 2021.
Against lefties, the usage looks nearly identical, with a slight dip in sliders. The four-seamer, changeup, and curveball have been dominant against righties, with whiff rates above 35%. However, the changeup and curveball wOBA increased in 2022.
Peralta’s Pitch Movement
When the pitch results change, we move towards pitch movement to help us understand further whether to buy or sell. Peralta’s slider isn’t breaking the same versus 2021, with five inches less horizontal break.
Given that data, it aligns with the quality of contact metrics changing, evidenced by the .296 SLG and .228 wOBA in 2021 that increased to a .462 SLG and .355 wOBA. Similarly, the four-seamer has an identical drop, yet two inches less break in 2022. Add in the curveball breaking 2.5 inches less, and we have a trend. The movement profiles and results concern us early on.
Buy or Sell Peralta?
After the breakout 2021 season, there are concerning signs of buying or selling Freddy Peralta in 2022. We could argue the results will regress closer to 2021 and the career norms. However, the pitch movement profile changes warrant some concern when the swinging-strike rates and contact rates shift. Given the arsenal, team context, and ace-like upside, it provides a chance to buy low rather than sell on Peralta in redraft and dynasty leagues.
Against the Reds on Tuesday, Peralta fell one out short of a quality start after allowing four hits, one earned run, and one walk, with eight strikeouts. He posted a season-high in strikeouts after two straight with seven punchouts. Peralta’s four-seamer and slider performed well in Whiff% and CSW%. It’s the first game of 2022 where Peralta’s slider and four-seamer elicited a Whiff% above 35% on both pitches. Although it’s an easier matchup, it’s positive to see Peralta dominate the Reds.
Dylan Bundy (SP – MIN)
Since leaving Baltimore, Dylan Bundy posted mixed results with the Angels, as evidenced by the 4.89 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 23.5% strikeout rate, and 7.7% walk rate in 156.1 innings (2020-2021). Home runs remained an issue with a 1.44 HR/9 versus a career 1.62 HR/9.
Before last week’s start against his former team, the Orioles, Bundy allowed seven earned runs combined in four previous starts compared to the nine earned against Baltimore. Unfortunately, Bundy has allowed 15 earned runs, which boomed his ERA to 5.76 over his past two starts. However, the near career bests in chase rate (34.7%) and swinging-strike rate (12.5%) provided some optimism to buy rather than sell Bundy as more than a streamer.
Bundy’s Arsenal & Results
The margin for error is slim with a pitcher like Bundy, who has an average fastball velocity of around 89 mph. However, the slider elicits whiffs, yet the results don’t always follow, evidenced by the 44.4% Whiff%, .593 SLG, and .423 wOBA in 2022.
From 2017 to 2020, Bundy’s slider resulted in a slugging percentage of .265 or below in three out of four seasons. The whiff rate also hovered over 47% during those seasons. Bundy’s next best whiff pitch involves the offspeed with a career 17% SwStr% versus a 15.4% SwStr% in 2022. There’s a classification difference on the splitter or changeup via FanGraphs or Baseball Savant.
Interestingly, Bundy’s four-seamer and changeup movement profiles possess above-average vertical movement. The four-seamer boasts 2.5 more inches of vertical rise versus the average, but we would like to see it higher up in the zone. Meanwhile, the changeup drops over 35 inches for around 2.5 inches more than the average. Bundy’s slider profile remained similar throughout his career, with above-average drop yet barely any horizontal break.
Outside of 2020, Bundy never totaled a negative Run-Value in the heart and shadow areas of the zone. However, in the peak 2017 season, Bundy boasted a silly -32 Run-Value in the shadow area. While that’s not the end of the world, it likely indicates Bundy has a hard time surviving, let alone thriving, in the heart of the zone.
Buy or Sell Bundy?
After two brutal starts, it’s reasonable to avoid buying or selling, given the risky streamer profile. Although Bundy typically posts a league average walk rate, he doesn’t elicit enough whiffs to have above-average strikeout rates. Bundy went three straight starts with zero home runs to kick off 2022, then gave up four in two starts with the BABIP booming. Throughout Bundy’s career, he struggled with home runs and stranding runners. Unfortunately, that’s not a recipe for success, especially when the stuff isn’t nasty, meaning Bundy serves as a streamer in 15-team leagues with a scary floor.