Game 111 Recap: Braves 2 Brewers 1

Tl;dr: Wily Peralta pitched six shutout innings before faltering in the seventh, and the Brewers bats could only muster a Ryan Braun home run, as Milwaukee lost to Atlanta 2-1.

Top Play (WPA): The top play of the game was Nick Markakis’s single in the seventh inning, which scored Freddie Freeman and tied the game at 1 (.165). As mentioned above, Peralta pitched six strong innings until the Braves finally got to him in the seventh. It started with a Freddie Freeman walk, then Matt Kemp singled and Markakis hit another single to score Freeman.

Peralta didn’t pitch poorly in the seventh, he just got some bad luck. Freeman worked an eight pitch walk on which ball three could have been called a strike. Kemp’s single was a grounder on the first pitch right where the shortstop usually plays, but it looked like Arcia was shifted towards third base. Markakis’s hit was a soft liner to center, but that did enough damage to get Peralta pulled.

The Braves’ winning run was scored on the next batter. Michael Blazek came in to face Adonis Garcia. He induced a chopper, which looked to bounce off the lip of the dirt in the home plate area and made it into the outfield. Just like that, the Braves scored enough to win the game on three hits which probably traveled less distance combined than Braun’s home run.

Bottom Play (WPA):
The very next batter in this sequence produced the worst play of the game, which is what happens in a 2-1 game without much in the way of offense. Blazek stayed in the game to face Jace Peterson. The Braves had runners on 1st and 2nd with no outs, but Peterson grounded into a double play (-.103). Markakis advanced to 3rd base on the play but wouldn’t score.

Trends to Watch:
Well, if you’d told me this morning that I’d be writing positive things about Wily Peralta, I’d have assumed you were crazy, but here we are. Below are the Pitch Stats from MLBAM and I’ll go through them to point out some changes in approach which may help to explain what happened.

Pitch Type Velo (Max) H-Break V-Break Count Strikes / % Swings / % Whiffs / % BIP (No Out) SNIPs / % LWTS
FT (Two-seam Fastball) 96.3 (99.2) -6.40 6.64 36 26 / 72.2% 19 / 52.8% 2 / 5.6% 9 (3) 17 / 63.0% -0.39
FF (Four-seam Fastball) 96.1 (98.0) -4.83 8.45 20 9 / 45.0% 7 / 35.0% 1 / 5.0% 3 (2) 6 / 35.3% 1.01
CH (Changeup) 85.0 (86.6) -5.45 6.93 4 2 / 50.0% 0 / 0.0% 0 / 0.0% 0 (0) 2 / 50.0% -0.05
SL (Slider) 83.4 (88.0) 2.33 0.46 33 19 / 57.6% 13 / 39.4% 8 / 24.2% 2 (0) 17 / 54.8% -1.11

[Pitch classifications provided by the Automatic MLBAM Gameday Algorithm.]

SNIPs are “Strikes Not In Play” and do not include any balls in play.
LWTS are linear weighted outcomes per pitch type.
The most noticeable change in Peralta was his velocity. While his slider and changeup were in line with his seasonal averages, his four seam fastball and sinker both ticked up in velocity. The four seamer was a full MPH faster than his previous 2016 output, and the sinker was up .8MPH. While he’s touched those speeds in previous starts, those also saw upticks in the velocity of his other pitches. The larger separation between his fast and breaking stuff may have helped keep hitters off balance last night.

What else changed? Peralta threw strikes. Discounting the changeup, which he only threw twice, Peralta hit season highs in terms of strikes for his hard stuff and slider. In 14 starts before last night, Peralta had only managed to throw more than half of his fastballs for strikes three times. Last night, he threw them for strikes 60.7 percent of the time. Getting strikes on 57.6 percent of his sliders was also a seasonal high, besting his previous high of 50 percent. His eight whiffs on sliders was also a highpoint this year.

In addition, Peralta slightly switched up his pitch mix. He threw around 60 percent fastballs last night, close to a season low for him, while mixing in his slider at 35 percent, towards the upper bound of his per game average, with both totals also being above his seasonal averages.

How much of this was a more focused Peralta, throwing harder, and keeping the ball in the zone, and how much of this was a dreadful Atlanta offense playing out the string against another non-contender in August? Unfortunately, we’ll need more time. But at the very least, Peralta has earned the right to stay up with the team to see if anything has changed.
Up Next:
The Brewers will look to snap their three game losing streak in the third game of the series Wednesday against Atlanta. Chase Anderson starts for Milwaukee. He’s allowed less than three runs in his past three starts, but hasn’t pitched more than six innings since early June. Pitching for Atlanta is Joel de la Cruz. He’s bounced between the rotation and bullpen this year, and in his last start pitched 5.3 innings, allowing on one run, but walked five. First pitch is 7:10.

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