One of the most important determining factors in the White Sox success in 2012 will be Jake Peavy.
The former National League Cy Young award winner has battled injuries since coming over to Chicago, disappointing fans by not being able to string together any sort of prolonged success.
Before Opening Day a couple weeks ago, Peavy was on White Sox Pregame Live on Comcast Sports Net and said that this was the first time he’s looked forward to making a start in a while.
That was the best statement Sox fans could have heard.
With Peavy, it’s not about the stuff and it’s not about how hard his fastball is thrown; it’s about the smaller things: hitting his spots, changing speeds, and most importantly, being confident that he can be a great pitcher once again.
Through three starts, Peavy has been able to do all of those things. The White Sox have won each of his starts, with Peavy getting two wins to show for his efforts.
When Peavy made his season debut in Texas, he was able to battle through tough situations to earn a quality start, keeping his team in a ball game that they ultimately won in the later innings. In his last two starts against Detroit and Baltimore, Peavy has been dominant.
To this point, he has gone 19.2 innings, striking out 21 batters, and only yielding 14 hits. That is what you call a good stat line.
But will the 30-year old veteran be able to sustain this success throughout an entire season?
Is he really ready to be a top notch pitcher like he was in the NL?
Maybe, maybe not.
But even if he isn’t the dominant Peavy that we grew to love a few years back or that we’ve seen through three starts in 2012, that doesn’t mean he can’t be an extremely valuable piece to the White Sox.
Can Peavy Regain Form of Old?
Jake Peavy came into the year as the Sox number 2 pitcher in the rotation. While we all know that once you get into the season a little deeper the rotation spots don’t mean much, I think they will mean more to Peavy than anyone else.
Jake is as competitive as they come. While I’m sure he understands why John Danks deserved to take long-time Sox ace Mark Buehrle’s shoes as the number 1 pitcher, Peavy is the type of guy who can find motivation in anything, and he clearly would like to be considered the go-to guy in the rotation.
If you’ve never thought about how competitive Peavy is, just watch his next start from beginning to end. Every time there’s a close up on him, really watch everything about him: his demeanor, his eyes, his body language, etc. The competitive nature in him really shines through.
With one out in the top of the 6th in his win over Baltimore, the game was still in reach for the Orioles as they had runners on 1st and 2nd with one out and Nick Markakis stepping to the plate. A few pitches in to the at-bat, the camera zoomed in on Peavy and you could see him saying something to himself under his breath.
While it may have been just his favorite country music lyrics, I would like to think it was something more along the lines of him yelling at himself for not retiring the O’s hitters in order.
Nonetheless, he retired the next two hitters easily to escape the jam.
You could see that he was filled with adrenaline and even excitement, but he was still able to stay under control and continue to dominate. If that pattern continues, the sky is the limit in 2012 for the former San Diego Padres ace.
My predictions for Peavy in 2012 may be clear from all the positives I’ve rambled through about Peavy so far. However, I’m not picking him to be a Cy Young candidate, I’m not expecting a sub-3.00 ERA, and I’m not going to predict 20 wins.
But even without those things falling into place, a resurgent Peavy would still act almost like a a huge off-season acquisition of sorts and give the team a boost they need in order to be a contender.
Predicting wins for a starting pitcher is nearly impossible, but I expect an ERA in the 3′s from Peavy. I’ll go with 3.30-3.70, and I think he will have more dominant stretches like the one he seems to be going through right now.
Peavy definitely wants to be the number 1 guy, and I think if he can stay healthy he may just be our best option to take down another team’s ace on any given night. Danks is the consistent, smart pitcher us south side faithful have grown to love, and Chris Sale is the exciting young arm anybody loves to watch, but Peavy’s experience, raw ability, and nasty stuff may shine through and informally appoint him as the go-to guy.
With a Kenny Williams trade, you sometimes have to give it time. A lot of time has already passed since we sent Clayton Richard, Aaron Poreda, and others to the Padres for Peavy, but if this is the year for number 44, the trade will definitely have been worth the wait.