Jake Peavy made his Red Sox debut last night in the confines of Fenway Park and earned a standing ovation (not an easy feat) as he walked off the mound after giving up a single in the 8th inning. He went seven strong innings, giving up just two runs on four hits while striking out seven.
I was able to stray away from anything sports related while I had the game recording so that I could watch it all unfold on my own time, thus forming my own opinion on Peavy’s start. I hadn’t watched much of him before, seeing as how he played in San Diego and Chicago, so here are three things I took away from his start last night.
Peavy’s got his quirks
It took Peavy about 6 outs in the game before he started showing signs of a schizophrenic. The word on him was that he talks to himself during starts, I guess you really don’t fully grasp that concept until you see it for yourself. I mean he missed a pitch outside in the 2nd inning, and before Salty could even throw him the ball back, you see his mouth moving and I loved every minute of it. There’s not a thing in the world Red Sox’ fans love more than a guy with character who’s got a little edge. Peavy is definitely that. However, I did find the timing of his self-talks a little confusing. When he gave up the homer to Goldschmidt, I saw nothing, but when he misses location on an 0-2 count, spit is flying onto his glove.
The other thing I noticed from watching the broadcast last night was Salty’s bright, neon yellow fingernails. Had to throw my shades on every time he threw down a sign. Apparently, Peavy is legally blind without contact lenses (20/300 vision), and even with lenses, his vision is still iffy (about 20/40 or so). The darker it gets, the harder it is for him to spot the catcher’s fingers. You could see him kind of just squinting in towards the catcher’s mitt last night, but it didn’t seem to have any effect on his game as I’m sure he is acclimated to it by now.
I’m always curious how a new pitcher and catcher will interact with each other, and while Salty and Peavy seemed disconnected at times (Peavy shook him off multiple times in several at-bats), it will only get better from here as their communication with one another picks up.
Impressive use of secondary pitches
Everybody always wants to talk about fastball velocity. When it’s declining, people start to assume that you’re losing your touch. When you’re throwing gas, people can’t stop looking at the radar gun. What impressed me most about Peavy’s start last night wasn’t his fastball, it was the use of his slider and curveball.
According to ESPN Stats and Information, Peavy threw a season-high 34 breaking balls yesterday that gave him five of his seven strikeouts and nine outs total. Am I purposely ignoring his fastball that he threw with precise location? Why yes, yes I am, because without that slider dropping out of the zone in a disgusting manner (granted, not as filthy as Corbin’s slider, my god) his fastball probably gets slapped around the ball park. Peavy did an excellent job of keeping the hitters off balance with his secondary stuff.
Pounding the zone and working quickly
Two things I hate in a pitcher, guys who walk a lot of batters, and guys who work like they are thinking too much on the mound. Peavy does neither. His ability to throw strikes (65 strikes in 99 pitches) and go right at hitters fits with his demeanor on the mound. He’s not going to back down, or give you a free pass to first base, that simple. I haven’t watched him enough to know if he is that efficient every time out, but the way he pitched last night had a feverish pace to it. Anytime you can pitch into the 8th and still be under 100 pitches is a manager’s paradise.