Milwaukee Brewers right-hander Freddy Peralta has earned a spot in the starting rotation after pitching primarily in relief last year.
Brewers manager Craig Counsell said Thursday that Peralta will get a starting assignment and that Josh Lindblom will work out of the bullpen to begin the season.
Counsell cited Peralta’s performance in an exhibition game Sunday against the Seattle Mariners as an example of the 24-year-old’s progress. Peralta struck out five and gave up one run in 4 2/3 innings that day. That’s the only run he’s allowed over 8 1/3 preseason innings.
“The rhythm of the game, the pitches he used, the weapons he had for different hitters, different handed-ness of hitters — just really a complete step up from a couple years ago, when he had to rely on the fastball, essentially,” Counsell said. “He’s worked really hard to get to this place, and I think he’s had a great spring. He’s added things to his game that I think give him a chance of (having) a great, great season.”
It’s a switch from the 2020 roles for Peralta and Lindblom.
Peralta went 3-1 with a 3.99 ERA in 15 appearances but made just one start last year. Lindblom, a 33-year-old right-hander, was 2-4 with a 5.16 ERA and started in 10 of his 12 outings.
But this won’t be a new assignment for either of them.
Peralta started in 14 of his 16 appearances as a rookie in 2018 and had eight starts in 39 appearances the following year. Lindblom has pitched in 126 career major league games but has only 16 starts, though he made 130 starts and no relief appearances with the Korean Baseball Organization from 2015-19.
The rest of the rotation figures to include right-handers Brandon Woodruff, Corbin Burnes and Adrian Houser plus left-hander Brett Anderson. Woodruff will pitch the season opener April 1 against Minnesota and Burnes will work the second game on April 3.
Counsell said he doesn’t expect Lindblom to spend the entire season working in relief.
“We’re planning on Josh making starts for us,” Counsell said. “He pitched out of the ‘pen at the end of last year, so he’s game for it. He knows what he has to do. I think Josh is going to pitch a lot of innings for us. I think he’s capable of pitching a lot of innings and we’re going to lean on him for that. He’s not going to start one of the first five games. After that, who knows?”
Lindblom said Monday he was ready for whatever role Counsell gave him and understood the possibility of opening the season in the bullpen.
“Whether that’s starting and throwing three innings, whether that’s coming out of the bullpen and throwing three innings, as long as I can help us win, that’s what’s important,” Lindblom said. “I just think we have a chance to do something special this year. When I look at the team, when I look at what we’ve done this offseason, the guys that we have coming back, we have a chance to be a special, special team.”