One day before the 2013 trade deadline the Boston Red Sox acquired starting pitcher Jake Peavy from the Chicago White Sox. This seems like a reasonable move for Boston. They could have given up three prospects and absorbed many millions of dollars to get Cliff Lee from the Philadelphia Phillies. They did give up the Major League tested and ready SS/3B Jose Iglesias but they still have Xander Bogarts and Will Middlebrooks in the minors, as well as Brandon Snyder and Stephen Drew on the major league roster.
Peavy is 32-years old and has a lifetime record of 128-97 with an ERA of 3.49 and a 1.18 WHIP. Lee is 34-years old, his career record is 135-82 with an ERA of 3.55 and a 1.20 WHIP. Both are former Cy Young winners and both were once regarded as one of baseballs top pitchers.
Like most pitchers Peavy’s strikeout numbers have slowly declined with age. At his peak in 2007 as a 26-year old Peavy struck out 240 batters in 223.1 innings for a SO/9 rate of 9.7. This year Peavy is 8-4 with a 4.28 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP in 13 starts, as he did miss some time this season with a broken rib. Surprisingly, Peavy has struck out 76 batters in 80 innings for a SO/9 rate of 8.6 this season. His full season rate has not been that high since 2008 when it was also 8.6 in 27 starts.
Peavy’s HR/9 rate is 1.6 this season so far, up from his first full season in the Majors which was 1.5 in 32 starts. That was 2003 and Peavy was just 22-years old. It is important to note that Peavy has played just one full season since 2007. He has been very injury plagued. However, the fact that he has only thrown 200 innings once since then might be to his advantage.
Division foes like the Baltimore Orioles, New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays have some experience vs. Peavy but not a whole lot. Balitmore’s J.J. Hardy is 1-for-14 with four strikeouts. Nick Markakis is 2-for-5. Current home run leader Chris Davis is just 0-for-2. The newest Yankee Alfonso Soriano is 9-for-32 with three homers and nine strikeouts. Robinson Cano is 4-for-9 with a homer. Ichiro is 8-for-25. Derek Jeter is 0-for-8. The resurgent James Loney (Tampa Bay) is 9-for-28 with a pair of homers. Evan Longoria is 2-for-12 with a homer. Ben Zobrist 4-for-10 with a homer. Luke Scott and Matt Joyce have also taken Peavy deep.
As we dig into Peavy’s ratios, this season his GB/FB rate 0.57, which is par with last season. His career rate 0.70. His GO/AO rate this year 0.62, compare that to his career average 0.91 and suddenly the short porch in right field at Fenway might look concerning. Historically, like most right-handed pitchers, Peavy has trouble with lefties who are hitting .265 BA/.317 OBP/.414 SLG. Righties are hitting .216 BA/.272 OBP/.340 SLG. At least he doesn’t have face David Ortiz. Who is 3-for-10 against his new teammate with no outfield bleacher damage.
Other powerful lefties that will face Peavy at home and in Yankee Stadium include the aforementioned Cano, who gets to face Peavy in both stadiums. Prince Fielder, who is 10-for-36 against with 10 strikeouts. Chris Davis, also mentioned before. Adam Lind (Toronto), who is 3-for-10 with homer and four strikeouts. James Loney, also mention before got to know Peavy very well while he was a Dodger and Peavy was a Padre. Let’s not forget Jason Kubel (Arizona) who has struggled against Peavy (1-for-8) but has taken him deep. Those are just a few examples of players who can make great use of Pesky Pole.