The Jhonny Peralta revival show needs to end soon, folks. With a wildcard spot hanging over their heads, the St. Louis Cardinals can't afford to "get guys going" anymore.
One of manager Mike Matheny's favorite lines is starting to roll sour off the tongue and the timing isn't right for projects to advance. Sit Peralta and do it now.
Peralta has struggled to hit for power since he returned from the disabled list after going down in spring training with a torn thumb ligament. It's simple. His thumb was hurt for such a long period of time that it has zapped his bat of all the power it previously had. Remember Yadier Molina the past two seasons? Two thumb injuries and nothing extra on the lumber. Peralta is no different.
Yet, he starts and hits in the middle of the order every single day. In his last 15 games, Peralta is 9-39 with a .359 slugging percentage. He shouldn't be starting at third. Jedd Gyorko may be struggling, but he can still get around on a fastball and produce. If it wasn't for his ninth inning single Saturday, the Cards may leave San Francisco with a Joni Mitchell album playing on the plane.
Peralta had seven extra base hits in 93 August at bats. He has three extra base hits in 39 at bats this month. Overall, he is hitting .245 with a .684 OPS in just under a half season amount of at bats. Frankly, he isn't getting the job done and an on-base magnet like Greg Garcia could help the team more at this point.
It's not just the thumb. After a roaring .828 OPS in the first half of 2015, relentless playing time helped wear Peralta down. His .631 OPS in the second half isn't much different than what he has done this season. It's a bad trend heading in the wrong direction. With crucial games ahead, sitting Peralta may be the right course.
The defense isn't there at all. After a solid 12.0 Ultimate Zone Rating in 2014, Peralta's defense dropped to a staggering -7.2 last year and stands around -8.0 rating this year while playing mostly third base. His worth has dropped from a 6.0 WAR to barely -0.8.
Sit him for a few games. No pinch hitting. Just rest. Mental and physical. There's a reason Matt Holliday isn't coming back. A broken thumb doesn't help a 36-year-old ballplayer find his way. Thumb injuries linger, especially when tendons are involved and bat grips are affected.
The Peralta contract, which ends after next season, was always meant to trickle away and linger in a bad way. It wasn't supposed to start in year two. One would have thought year-four would be the season where Peralta truly lost his touch. 2016 has just confirmed it.
Will he be better next year? Yes or no, I hope it is for another team. An American League team might take a shot on him for a one year binge. Perhaps he can DH. His spot on the Cardinals, with guys like Gyorko and Kolten Wong signed long term and producing, isn't locked in but his contract is.
What the Cardinals can control is when he plays and how often. At the moment, it should be less frequent. He needs to spell Gyorko and Wong and nothing more. An accessory over a necessity.
There was a time when Peralta was pretty good. That time is gone.