Joel Peralta was a non-roster Spring Training invitee, at the age of 39, at the very end of his career. He was looking for a chance, and the Mariners gave him one. He seized it, and pitched well enough during the Cactus League to break camp in a thin and injury-riddled Mariner bullpen.
When Joaquin Benoit went on the DL in April, it was Peralta who was given the role of Steve Cishek's set up man. Despite throwing exactly zero major league plus pitches, Peralta's now 40-year old arm gave the Mariners almost one month of just-effective-enough relief. In April Peralta faced thirty-three batter, most in high leverage situations, struck out ten of them, walked two, and allowed only three runs.
Since then it's gone exactly the way it, by all rights, should have gone from the beginning. Peralta's strikeouts shrunk, and his BABIP and ERA soared with the majesty many of his pitches now did over outfield fences. Demoted methodically, yet seemingly rapidly to mop up duty, Peralta allowed three runs in 1.1 innings in last night's blowout loss, and you could feel the winds of inevitability begin to swirl. I though the team would hold off for Tony Zych or maybe even Edwin Diaz to make it official, but it turns out they had seen enough:
RHP Cody Martin recalled. RHP Joel Peralta DFA— Ryan Divish (@RyanDivish) June 2, 2016
It's a perfectly defensible decision. Again, Peralta has not been good, and there's no reason to expect him to get better. The Mariners are still employing Steve Johnson and now Cody Martin to pitch in major league baseball games for them, so while there were certainly other candidates for demotion, age lost out.
Cody Martin will bring a low 90's fastball, decent slider, show me curveball, create-a-player name, and fine upstanding Gonzaga education to the Mariners, and attempt to help this team survive the upcoming increase in schedule difficulty. His ability to throw multiple innings and/or spot start certainly makes him a more viable mop up man than Joel Peralta, who was barely able to work through an inning at this point.
It's a fine call, and at the end of the day a team DFA'ing an ineffective 40-year old mop up pitchers is the kind of news that does little more than fill story quotas on a sleepy late-Spring Thursday. But for Peralta, it may mark the end of a road that saw him convert from outfield, toil in the Minors for almost a decade, and then bounce around seven organizations in major league baseball.
He will be fine. This is a man who, when asked for his career highlight responded with:
In fact it may be Peralta's fantastic makeup, combined with a K-rate he can still point at as above average, that lands him a job in 2016. Maybe somewhere like Atlanta, or Cincinnati. Wherever he goes, I have little doubt he will make the most of it. People like Peralta don't really lose, they just experience life, and move forward with a smile.
The Mariners made the right call to DFA Joel Peralta today, and they made the right call to allow him to play with this team for two months. If they can hold on through the rest of the year, and finally put to bed this horrific playoff-less streak, hopefully a few of us remember way back to April, when a balding, sweaty old man took forty seconds between every pitch to summon his will, and gave the team the very last ounce of pitching he had left.