An MRI of Freddy Peralta’s sore right shoulder revealed a posterior shoulder strain, and the right-hander is expected to miss “significant” time, Brewers manager Craig Counsell announced to reporters Monday. The Brewers expect that Peralta will be able to return this season, but a specific timetable isn’t yet clear. Surgery isn’t expected to be necessary, Counsell added. Left-hander Aaron Ashby is expected to step into the Milwaukee rotation in his place, joining Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff, Eric Lauer and Adrian Houser.
Deep and talented as Milwaukee’s pitching staff is, there’s little denying that Peralta’s loss is a major one for the Brew Crew. The right-hander hasn’t been himself this year, evidenced by a pedestrian 4.42 ERA and a diminished, albeit still excellent, 30.3% strikeout rate through his first 38 2/3 frames. That’s solid production for a fourth or fifth starter but a far cry from Peralta’s dominant 2021 campaign, when he posted a 2.81 ERA and 33.6% strikeout rate through 144 1/3 frames.
The group of Burnes, Woodruff and Peralta looked to be arguably the top rotation trio of any team in the league, but it hasn’t played out that way this year. Burnes has been dominant, following up on his 2021 Cy Young win with a brilliant 2.26 ERA in 51 2/3 innings. But both Peralta and Woodruff have struggled to match last year’s outstanding results. Rather, it’s been Lauer who has stepped things up considerably, while through his first seven turns, the underrated Houser somewhat remarkably has perfectly replicated last year’s 3.22 ERA.
Ashby will now step into that mix and hope to solidify his place in the Milwaukee rotation for the foreseeable future. A former fourth-round pick, Ashby has generally been considered the Brewers’ top pitching prospect for the past few seasons and, so far in 2022, has looked the part. He’s split his time between the rotation and the bullpen, notching a 3.49 ERA with a strong 27.6% strikeout rate and a mammoth 64.8% grounder rate. Ashby’s command has been spotty, as advertised (13.8% walk rate), but he’s minimizing hard contact and getting tons of chases off the plate (35.5%). He’s yet to pitch more than four innings in an outing this season, though, so it’ll be telling just how Ashby fares when working deeper into games and perhaps turning a lineup over for a third time.