Veteran Peralta is latest pitcher to join Nats on minors deal

The Nationals added another experienced pitcher to their growing spring training roster Tuesday, signing right-hander Wily Peralta to a minor league deal with an invitation to big league camp.

Peralta, 33, joins an expanding list of veterans who will get a chance to compete for a spot on the Opening Day pitching staff, his addition coming on the heels of a comparable minor league contract given to reliever Alex Colome late last week.

It remains to be seen what kind of role the Nationals have in mind for Peralta, who has been a starter most of his career but pitched out of the bullpen last season for the Tigers.

A 17-game winner for the Brewers in 2014, Peralta has spent his entire career pitching in the Midwest. After six seasons in Milwaukee, he went to Kansas City in 2018 and served as a reliever for the Royals for two seasons. He then moved on to Detroit, initially signing minor league deals prior to both the 2021 and 2022 seasons but pitching his way onto the big league roster in each case.

Peralta compiled some disparate stats in 28 appearances last year. He posted an impressive 2.58 ERA but did so while seeing his WHIP climb to 1.513. The biggest problem: He walked 24 batters in only 38 1/3 innings.

The Tigers wound up designating Peralta for assignment in mid-August, and he didn’t catch on with another club before season’s end. He did make two winter ball starts in his native Dominican Republic this offseason, tossing seven scoreless innings with nine strikeouts and only one walk.

Over the entirety of his career, Peralta owns a 56-61 record, 4.29 ERA and 1.447 WHIP across 258 big league outings (139 of them starts).

If Peralta is willing to report to Triple-A Rochester, the Nationals probably could use some starting pitching depth. They are projected to open the season with a five-man rotation of MacKenzie Gore, Cade Cavalli, Josiah Gray, Patrick Corbin and Trevor Williams. Their starting depth beyond that, though, is thin, with swingmen Paolo Espino and Cory Abbott probably atop the list and 24-year-old Joan Adon likely headed back to Rochester.

If the Nats envision using Peralta as a reliever, they may have a tougher time finding a spot for him. They’ve already got what appears to be a deep bullpen headlined by Kyle Finnegan, Carl Edwards Jr., Hunter Harvey and Erasmo Ramirez, with prospects Mason Thompson, Thad Ward and Jordan Weems competing for remaining spots with veterans Colome and Sean Doolittle, plus Espino and Abbott.

* Major League Baseball officially announced the starting times for all 2023 regular season games Tuesday. Much of the Nationals’ home start times will look familiar to fans.

First pitch for weeknight games will continue to be at 7:05 p.m., except for the traditional 6:05 p.m. July 3 start and subsequent 11:05 a.m. July 4 game, both coming against the Reds this year.

Most Saturday games will start at 4:05 p.m., except for 1:05 p.m. starts April 29 against the Pirates and Sept. 23 against the Braves, with 7:05 p.m. starts July 22 against the Giants and Aug. 12 against the Athletics.

Sunday games will continue to start at 1:35 p.m., except for at 12:05 p.m. July 9 game against the Rangers, which will be part of Peacock’s streaming-only broadcast package, and the 7:10 p.m. game Aug. 20 against the Phillies, which will be played in Williamsport, Pa., as this year’s MLB Little League Classic.

Getaway day games either start at 1:05 p.m. or 4:05 p.m. Opening Day (March 30 vs. the Braves) starts at 1:05 p.m.

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