Peralta, Vuke and racking up wins
Considering Wily Peralta wasn’t aware Saturday that he was tied with a trio of Cy Young Award winners for the Major League lead in victories, he was certainly not aware of how rare a finish that would be in Brewers history.
Only once in the first 44 seasons of Brewers baseball has one of their own led his league in victories. It was in strike-shortened 1981, when Pete Vuckovich won 14 times to tie Baltimore’s Dennis Martinez, Oakland’s Steve McCatty and Detroit’s Jack Morris atop the American League. Cincinnati’s Tom Seaver led the National League that year, also with 14.
It would take a strong finish for himself and his team, but second-year right-hander Peralta has at least an opportunity to match Vuckovich’s achievement. He allowed two runs in 6 2/3 innings of Friday’s 7-4 win, giving him 13 victories in his first 22 starts this season.
The other pitchers with as many wins as of Saturday afternoon: The Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw, the Cardinals’ Adam Wainwright and the Tigers’ Max Scherzer.
“Whew!” Peralta said. “I didn’t know. That’s a few Cy Young guys. That’s what I’ve been working for. I’ve improved in pretty much everything. My command has been unbelievable this year and that’s something I was struggling last year. I was working behind the counts on hitters. I said in spring that was one of my goals — attack hitters.”
Peralta is 13-6 this season with a 3.52 ERA, including 4-0 with a 1.71 ERA in four starts since a nine-run blowup against the Phillies on July 8.
The league is taking note.
“I think last year he started to figure things out, second half especially,” said Wainwright, who was on the losing end Friday night. “He’s just got such a great fastball sitting 96 [mph] with some very good movement on it. He’s obviously stepped his game up.”
The Brewers tend to keep their starting pitchers in order through team off-days, so Peralta has about 10 starts remaining. He would have to win seven of them to be the fourth 20-game winner in franchise history, a round number not reached since Teddy Higuera went 20-11 (with 15 complete games) in 1986.
If he wins only half of his remaining starts, Peralta could still be just the eighth 18-game winner in Brewers history. Chris Capuano (18-12 in 2005) is the only Milwaukee pitcher to win that many times since 1987.
While it’s rare for a Brewers pitcher to lead his league in wins, it’s not unprecedented in Milwaukee’s Major League history. Hall of Famer Warren Spahn led the National League or tied for the lead in victories six times with the Milwaukee Braves from 1953-61, including a ’59 season in which he and teammate Lew Burdette each matched Sam Jones of the Giants with 21 wins.
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