The Yankees’ most underrated bullpen arm is gearing up for a big 2023

wandy peralta, yankees

When Yankees GM Brian Cashman traded Mike Tauchman to the Giants for Wandy Peralta in 2021, many fans were beside themselves with the move. Tauchman was coming off a great 2019 season that saw him burst onto the scene, followed up by a less-convincing 2020 display. The Yankees needed bullpen help at the time, and no one could’ve predicted that Wandy would become as dominant as he is now.

Since donning the Pinstripes, Wandy has been nothing short of elite in his role. He has hurled 99.0 innings, and in those innings, he’s posted ERA & FIP splits of 2.82 & 3.52, respectively. His bread-and-butter remains his sinker-changeup combination, and that results in a mass number of groundballs hit softly to the infield. Wandy certainly won’t blow everyone away with his swing-and-miss stuff, but he truly is the second coming of Zack Britton. I’ll get more into that in a bit.

Wandy’s 2022 Postseason was one of the best out of the bullpen arms:

The 2022 Postseason is certainly one many Yankees fans will want to erase from their memory, as the 4-0 sweep by the Houston Astros is not something people want to linger on. However, Wandy Peralta was the story of the bullpen, as both he and Jonathan Loaisiga turned in excellent performance after performance. Wandy was used in every game of the ALDS, as well as a few in the ALCS as well, as he appeared in 7 of the team’s nine games. He tossed 8.2 innings in relief, posted a 3.12 ERA and 1.61 FIP, and only walked one batter. He didn’t get smitten by the long ball, whilst he also maintained the elite GB% that makes him such a quality reliever (52.0%).

The Yankees were outmatched in basically every way during the ALCS, but that didn’t stop Wandy from coming in and doing his job. Although he may have run out of gas a bit at the end, he still tossed 2.2 innings whilst only giving up a single run off a double against Houston. It may seem like those aren’t great splits, but Wandy did exactly what was needed of him and then some. His work against the Guardians, however, was one of the most dominant stretches from a reliever I’ve watched in the postseason in some time.

As for the other six innings he accounted for in the postseason against Cleveland, he only surrendered two runs, both in the same game, which NYY ended up losing 6-5. Other than that, he was absolute nails in the big moments. Wandy is able to deceive hitters constantly because of how his sinker and changeup break at the tail end of the pitch, and that was clear against Cleveland. One of the best hitting lineups in baseball, as they are exceptional at making contact and limiting the strikeouts, was left befuddled by Peralta’s stuff.

2023 should see Wandy with an even larger role for the Yankees:

It’s pretty crazy to conceptualize just how dominant this bullpen will be in 2023, as with the countless pieces that have been added over the years, it’s also extremely cost-efficient. Wandy will likely be making roughly $3 million this upcoming season, and for someone with his abilities, that is an absolute steal. He threw 56.1 innings in 2022 and posted his best season to date, and I still think there’s more left to be desired. The reason I compared him to Britton is that the two of them pitch eerily similar to one another, and Wandy’s approach facing hitters is nearly identical.

They both focus heavily on getting soft contact and inducing a ton of groundballs, and if Wandy takes that next leap this upcoming season, the comp would be right on the money. Below, I’ve included a table comparing a few metrics that are comparable between the two, showing just how good Wandy was and will be. I decided to use Britton’s best year in Pinstripes to really show that Wandy is cookin’ with fire:

Zack Britton (2019)Wandy Peralta (2022)
K/9 & BB/97.78 / 4.407.51 / 2.52
ERA & FIP1.91 / 3.742.72 / 2.86
GB%77.2% 53.9%
HH% against27.7%18.4%
Info courtesy of Fangraphs

Now, there are some obvious points to be made about Britton. His 2019 year, the first full season with the Yankees, was just as dominant as he had been in years prior. He was locating beautifully, pounding the bottom of the zone, and getting grounders at a clip that seems almost undoable. However, he was bit by the long ball a lot more than Wandy and struggled to find his command at times — hence the 4.40 BB/9 that he posted. Nonetheless, Britton was extremely solid for this team in ’19, and Wandy’s 2022 had some moments in it that reminded me of Zack with a ‘k.’

Wandy didn’t give up home runs, in fact, his 4.3% HR/FB% was tied for 11th best out of all qualified relievers in baseball. As mentioned earlier, that was thanks to his sinker-changeup combo that saw hitters struggling to get any lift on the ball. Wandy’s changeup specifically was one of the best individual pitches in baseball, as he ranked 6th in Run-Value on that individual pitch, with a -8. He only threw that pitch 347 times, which was the second-least usage of everyone in the T10 (Marinaccio was just behind him with a -7 Run Value, having thrown it just 287 times).

The Britton comp may be a bit too early to boost, and there are certainly differentiating numbers that show the two are different pitchers, but their approaches are the same. Even though Britton was able to hurl his sinker at 97 MPH roughly, Wandy doesn’t need to do that to be considered great. He just needs to continue dotting the bottom corners and living in the bottom half of the strike zone. Wandy is easily one of the best relievers on this squad, and with less lefty help than ever before, he’ll be called upon in countless huge moments.

I fully anticipate a fantastic 2023 year out of Wandy, and if he’s able to continue mixing his pitches up at a similar rate (42.5% Changeup, 37.3% Sinker, 15.7% Slider), he should find great success — as Borat would say.

Wandy was one of the best in baseball, and his BaseballSavant page indicates just that. He was in the Top 10% of pitchers in the following categories:

  • AVG Exit Velocity (96th Percentile)
  • Hard Hit % (92nd Percentile)
  • xERA/xwOBA (91st Percentile)
  • Barrel % (91st Percentile)
  • Whiff % (92nd Percentile)
  • xSLG (94th Percentile)

Look out for Wandy in ’23, and his dominance should help out what looks to be the best bullpen in baseball. There are a few questions still surrounding a few guys’ future in the pen (Trivino, Weissert, Schmidt), but Wandy is one sure thing for this upcoming season. Watching him hurl his sinker and changeup from the left side, whilst watching Kahnle throw his dominant changeup and new sinker-2seam hybrid from the right will be a work of art.

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