Peralta reflects on roller coaster season

Brewers right-hander Wily Peralta expressed no qualms about the team’s decision to bump him from his final start because of a blister.

“It feels great. I’m happy with the way that I finished up,” Peralta said at rainy Turner Field on Wednesday. “I think it’s not the way you start the season, it’s the way you finished, and I made big progress since the season started.”

Peralta went 11-15 with a 4.37 ERA in his first full season in the Major Leagues, but indeed finished much better than he started. He pitched to a 6.35 ERA in April and May, with a .311 opponents’ average in those first 11 starts. But he found a rhythm beginning with a seven-outing against the Braves at Miller Park on  June 21, going 7-7 with a 3.05 ERA and a .229 opponents’ average over his final 17 starts of the season, including a pair of complete games. Peralta’s three-hit shutout of the Reds on July 9 was the Brewers’ first complete game in two and a half years.

“I have a lot of confidence in myself,” he said. “I knew I was going to get through this, because I was struggling last year at Triple-A, too, when I started the season. I’ve been past this moment before. I know what I can do. I know I was going to get out of this situation. But it was tough.”

The key, said everyone from manager Ron Roenicke to Peralta’s personal catcher, Martin Maldonado, was controlling his emotions.

“I’ve always been an emotional guy. Early, I was struggling, and I’m [still] an emotional guy, but I was able to control that,” Peralta said. “Since I got my pitches, all my stuff working, I got more confident in myself. I still get mad on the mound, but I settled down and just forgot about it and made pitches when I had to.”

Maldonado helped at times by firing purposeful return throws to the mound.

“Yeah, he threw bullets at me,” Peralta said. “I know when he threw those pitches hard, he was mad at me because he wanted me to focus on the thing that I needed to do. That’s been one of the things that’s been helping me a lot, too, because it’s the same thing he did in the Minor Leagues. I knew when he threw the ball hard he wanted me waking up.”

What does Peralta view as his next challenge?

“Just trying to be consistent the whole year, trying to start the year right away,” he said. “That’s the thing that I’m going to work on in the offseason, being prepared in Spring Training. When the season starts, I’m going to be as ready as I can. I don’t want to start the season bad again.”

He plans to relax at the beach at home in the Dominican Republic in October before ramping up workouts beginning in November. Peralta is one of three pitchers, with Kyle Lohse and Yovani Gallardo, assured of a spot in next year’s starting rotation, barring offseason transactions.

His last two months have renewed Peralta’s confidence.

“Yeah, sure,” he said. “Like I said, I’m happy with the way that I finished, and I think these last two months are making me more confident for next year.”

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