Yankees have interest in bringing back a reliable veteran reliever

MLB: New York Yankees at Tampa Bay Rays
Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

While the Yankees have plenty of buzz around names such as Juan Soto and Yoshinobu Yamamoto, the team is still looking to shore smaller weaknesses as well. An overlooked hole on the roster right now is the fact that they lack left-handed relief help with Wandy Peralta set to hit free agency. The ever-reliable left-hander gave the Yankees a strong season, posting a 2.83 ERA and 57.4% groundball rate across 54 innings, essentially repeating his production from the year prior.

The Yankees, who acquired him early into the 2021 season for outfielder Mike Tauchman, have relied heavily on the 32-year-old reliever against southpaws, and after a successful run in the Bronx, the Yankees have shown interest in retaining him per Gary Phillips of the NY Daily News.

Should the Yankees Retain Wandy Peralta?

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Sep 5, 2022; Bronx, New York, USA; New York Yankees relief pitcher Wandy Peralta (58) pitches in the eighth inning against the Minnesota Twins at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Wandy Peralta since coming over in 2021 has been an excellent weapon for the Yankee bullpen, providing them 153 innings as a reliever and one-time opener at a 2.82 ERA and 56.5% GB%, helping anchor the backend of the Yankees’ bullpen from the left-handed side. The Yankees, similarly to their lineup, have a right-handed heavy bullpen, except carrying a myriad of right-handed pitchers makes plenty of sense considering the three-batter rule has eliminated the LOOGY from most bullpens.

Unlike those one-dimensional relievers, Peralta has been a multi-purpose arm who can pitch multiple innings and do so against any batter in any situation. He’s gotten out of a myriad of jams, with a +2.83 Win Probability Added and 53 Shut Downs according to FanGraphs. Command can be an issue for the southpaw at times, but with just how good his stuff is and how well he plays can induce contact on the ground, it hasn’t become an issue for him in run prevention situations.

Righties had their most success against Peralta this past season when he had a .336 wOBA against, but the year prior it sat at .266, and he remained consistent all season. His +1.13 Win Probability Added this past season shows he still remained effective in tough spots, as he held batters to a .222 BA and .389 SLG% in high-leverage situations. While the Yankees haven’t submitted an offer yet, it’s not hard to imagine that they’d be able to connect on a team-friendly deal, especially since he’s a reliever.

One adjustment that he made towards the end of the season was relying less on his changeup, as he seemed to lose some effectiveness on it despite it not changing much in shape. The inclusion of his four-seam fastball more frequently could be an adjustment we see Peralta make, as he seemed to rely on it more down the stretch.

Likely as a way to keep batters honest and off of his changeup, Peralta began using his four-seam fastball prominently against right-handed hitters, and while it’s a small sample size, he held batters to a 41.7% Whiff Rate and .099 wOBA on that pitch this season. The pitch doesn’t get great vertical movement, as a show pitch it likely works as a way to change eye levels.

Regression could be a concern as he finished the season with a 5.05 FIP and his worst quality of contact since against since 2020, but projections still view him as a strong reliever for any bullpen, as Steamer has him at a 3.80 ERA. The Yankees don’t have many options internally that could fill in from the left-handed side, and the free agent market isn’t robust with reliable left-handed options who pitch better to lefties, so this reunion makes a lot of sense between the two.

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