Originally written on Baseball Professor  |  Last updated 2/26/12

As a National, Brad Peacock was on the outside looking in. His talent was never in doubt, but no one could be sure whether he’d be a member of the Washington rotation out of camp or how long it would take once the season got underway. As an Athletic, Peacock is assured a rotation spot. That’s what happens when a rotation is left without its top four options (Brad Anderson, Dallas Braden, Trevor Cahill and Gio Gonzalez). Peacock’s fantasy value will be on the rise.

How good can he be in Oakland? First we need to define what kind of pitcher Peacock is.

Brad Peacock Player Profile

Peacock has two pitches that currently profile as plus-offerings: a 92-94 MPH fastball and a strikeout-caliber curveball that I’ve even seen some refer to as a knuckle curve. In his very brief time in the majors last season (12 IP), Peacock threw these two pitches plus a change-up, throwing the fastball 65 percent of the time (average 92.7 MPH), the curve 13 percent of the time (74.7 MPH) and the change-up 22 percent of the time (82.5 MPH).

It’s an extremely small sample size, and Peacock’s ERA/FIP relationship (0.75/3.86) with the Nats shows the dangers of looking at just the stats of a small sample, but the 10-MPH gap between his fastball and change-up is very promising. When evaluating pitchers, one of the firsts I look at is the gap in velocities between their fastball and change-up, and I usually hope for something at least eight-plus. Peacock’s 10 is great.

In his minor league career, Peacock has had moderate control problems. His 3.11 BB/9 in the minors is higher than I would like, however that number is inflated by some struggles early in his professional career. Before getting promoted to triple-A last season, Peacock had walked just 24 batters in 98 2/3 innings (2.19 BB/9) but then he matched those 24 walks with triple-A Syracuse in just 48 innings (4.50 BB/9).

The good news is that Peacock’s strikeout rate has been on the rise. His overall minor league rate of 8.3 K/9 is good-but-not eye-popping, but since the start of 2010 Peacock has posted a strikeout rate of 10.13 K/9.

In 2010, Peacock was a slight ground ball pitcher according to Statcorner.com, but he became a slight fly ball pitcher in 2011. In those 12 major league innings last year, Peacock was a rather extreme fly ball pitcher (60.5%) but that’s too small a sample size to really draw any conclusions. Either way, he’s never been heavily reliant on the ground ball, and that style will play well in Oakland where he calls the Coliseum his home and he’ll get to make frequent trips to Safeco Field and Angel Stadium. Texas will trip him up, but it would be unwise to play almost any young starter against Texas.

As far as workload goes, Peacock threw 142 innings in 2010 and another 158 2/3 more last season. Most clubs like to minimize the increase in innings for starters under 25, usually adding no more than 30 (Verducci Effect), and that would put the 24-year-old Peacock at a max of 188 2/3 innings this season. Frankly, I’d be surprised if we were worrying about an innings cap at the end of the season because it’s very unlikely he’ll push 190 innings.

Brad Peacock 2012 Projection

In recent seasons Peacock has had improved control and improved strikeout rates. While his control is still a work in progress and will likely leave him at times, he should have just as many dominating efforts to help balance it out. Like any youngster he’ll be prone to erratic performances that will leave head-to-head leaguers frustrated, but in roto leagues he’ll end the year with a nice stat line that will provide good bang for your buck, especially considering his likely free agent status in most leagues at the start of the season.

Because sleepers are players that have low expectations but high ceilings, I like to give them two projections: the safe projection (what they’ll most likely end up doing) and a best-case projection (what they could be expected to do if almost everything breaks right).

  • Safe Projection: 160 IP, 10 W, 4.20 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 145 K
  • Best-case Projection: 185 IP, 13 W, 3.40 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 180 K
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