In virtually every close game the Rays have had this season, there seemingly has been on constant – the eventual presence of Joel Peralta. For most of the season, Peralta has been the Rays most effective reliever, the one pitcher that Joe Maddon could count on to get the required outs more often than not.
For the most part, Peralta repaid that faith by being dominant. Through June 12th, he had gone 1-2 with 16 holds, striking out a batter per inning. He had allowed only 20 hits in his 32 innings, holding the opposition to a .179 batting average. With the struggles and inconsistency of the bullpen, Peralta was the one constant.
Considering the problems that the Rays have had with their rotation this season, the performance of the bullpen is likely vital to their chances. With Jeremy Hellickson and Roberto Hernandez being inconsistent, and Matt Moore struggling as of late, the bullpen may need to steal a couple of games. Peralta is a major part of that plan.
However, it appears as though that workload is catching up to him. Over his last four games, Peralta has given up six runs in 2.1 innings. After allowing one home run prior to June 12th, he has given up two in his last four games. His ERA has risen from a sparkling 1.72 to 3.21 over the past week. Peralta’s velocity, never exactly at Fernando Rodney levels, has decreased by approximately two miles per hour on average over that time frame.
It is hard to remain a dominant force when pitching practically every other day as Peralta has this season. Yet, as seemingly the only reliever Maddon trusts in a close game in the eighth inning, he has been run out there more than any other pitcher in the American League. At this point, Peralta appears to be in need of a rest.
Perhaps the emergence of Alex Torres in the Rays bullpen will allow Maddon to give Peralta a couple of days off. At this point, they appear to be desperately needed.