Heading into spring training games, the only lefty certain to make the bullpen is Tony Cingrani.
Wandy Peralta didn’t have a great first spring training appearance for the Cincinnati Reds, giving up a walk and two hits in one inning. He also allowed an earned run, making for an ugly 9.00 ERA. That single outing will not push him too far down the line, though, as the one true minor league lefty reliever in camp.
Last season Peralta had a seven inning tryout in September and it did not go well. He had an ERA of 8.59 over 10 games. Where he was successful was against lefties, more so than righties, at least.
That wasn’t true in the minors last year, though. He was relatively successful against right-handers, holding them to a .227 batting average. Lefties batted .265 against him in 83 at-bats.
In 2015 Peralta, much like Tony Cingrani, was a starter. In that role, he was better against righties than lefties. He had a pretty tough time as a starter, so they transitioned Peralta to a reliever.
In this new hybrid multi-inning reliever role Peralta may make sense. Without being a lefty specialist, though, he has a ton of competition to overcome. Even if he has found a way to be more successful against lefties, he has other competition in camp.
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The Cincinnati Reds have brought in three non-roster invitees to challenge Wandy Peralta for the lefty specialist role.
Lucas Luetge is the primary non-roster invitee that will be looked as at a lefty specialist. He hasn’t had any substantial time in the majors since 2013, but his splits then were good. In 2012 he was downright nasty against lefties, holding them to .193 batting average as a lefty specialist.
The most interesting option in camp is Nick Routt. He was able to get both lefties and righties out at a good rate in Double-A last season.
Unfortunately, he is like a young Cingrani in that lefties gave him more trouble than righties.
The third reliever in camp that could stay as a lefty specialist is Ismael Guillon. Guillon split his time in 2016 between starting and relieving, but was nasty in both roles. Of the three prospects, Guillon is the only one with better numbers against lefties than righties.
Guillon, Luetge, and Peralta are all scheduled to pitch on Monday in the same game. Of course, Peralta’s real competition is the list of right handed relievers in camp who can get both righties and lefties out. Peralta needs to show the team that he is ready for the big leagues. Otherwise, 2017 will be the second season in a row with Cingrani as the only lefty in the pen.