Peralta pitches himself into Crew's 2017 mix

Peralta pitches himself into Crew's 2017 mix

MILWAUKEE -- Wily Peralta has pitched his way back into the Brewers' plans for 2017, manager Craig Counsell said on Tuesday after Peralta delivered a second straight strong performance against one of the National League's best lineups.

Peralta became the first Brewers starter to record an out in the eighth inning, aided by an offensive breakout in the Brewers' 12-5 win over the Cubs at Miller Park. He has gone at least seven innings in back-to-back starts against the Cubs and Cardinals, who trail only the high-altitude Rockies in scoring among NL clubs.

"The way his season started, yeah, he had to pitch his way back in," Counsell said. "And I think he's done so."

Peralta's season started poorly, to say the least. After paying him $2.8 million in arbitration, the Brewers named him their Opening Day starter, but he went 4-7 with a 6.68 ERA in 13 starts before a demotion to Triple-A Colorado Springs in early June.

Peralta went 1-3 with a 6.31 ERA in the Minors but was needed in the big leagues on Aug. 9 to replace an injured Junior Guerra. Since then, Peralta has a 3.35 ERA and 33 strikeouts in six starts, including his 7 2/3-inning, four-run, six-hit outing against the Cubs.

The Brewers will enter the offseason facing decisions about their rotation. The team's two best starters have been Zach Davies and Guerra, neither of whom made the Opening Day roster this year. Jimmy Nelson faces a critical test, because it is his final year before arbitration. The same is true for Chase Anderson. Matt Garza will earn $12.5 million in the final season of his contract. Top pitching prospect Josh Hader may begin the year at Triple-A, but he could be knocking on the door of the Majors by midseason.

And then there is Peralta, who is arbitration-eligible for the second time. Before his recent surge, there was at least a chance the Brewers would non-tender him rather than pay him again in arbitration.

His pitching line on Tuesday was marred by three homers, including two from Anthony Rizzo that accounted for three of Chicago's runs. Rizzo's two-run shot in the eighth ended Peralta's night.

"I feel like I made two good pitches to him," Peralta said. "He's been killing me."

Aside from the homers, it was another good night.

"There were some starts at Colorado Springs that were encouraging. ... I thought we were going to see a better version of Wily," Counsell said. "Obviously, the numbers didn't look good, and I understand that. But he's doing things better, and you can tell by the ways hitters are reacting."

Does Peralta feel as though he's saved his season?

"Kind of, a little bit, yeah," Peralta said. "Still, I've got [three or four more starts] left. There's a lot of games that I have to pitch. But I'm trying to finish strong. The way that I've been throwing, I think it saved me a little bit."

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy, like him on Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.