“Jake Peavy” and “durable” aren’t often found in the same sentence (unless used in the same context as this sentence), but “Jake Peavy” and “dominant” very much belong together. But when you think of Peavy’s dominant days, you’re probably conjuring up images of beautiful California nights, brilliant sunsets, and spacious PetCo Park. Your mind doesn’t wander to the Chicago skyline and the black and white duds the White Sox don every baseball evening. That is, until 2012.
Peavy returned to form in some sense of the phrase last season, but it wasn’t the same dominant Peavy we once grew fond of. Though his 3.37 ERA wasn’t quite the 2.50-2.80 mark he posted with the Padres, his 219 innings were the second-highest of his 11 year career. That might be the most encouraging sign of all.
In the last two years Peavy has accepted that he’s no longer the pitcher he used to be. His average fastball sits just under 91 mph instead of 92-93 like it did as recently as 2009, and he’s featuring his curveball and change-up with increased regularity. Despite posting a 4.92 ERA in 2011, Peavy actually had a 3.21 FIP, which was even better than his FIP last season.
Peavy has great control, limits his walks, strikes out an above average number of batters, and has an extremely varied repertoire. If he can stay healthy — a major if — then he can return numbers almost as good as last season. Peavy’s still good, he’s just not that good.
At a Glance
Strengths: ERA, WHIP, BB
Neutral: K, K/9, W, L, QS, IP
Best-case scenario: Jered Weaver (LAA)
Likely scenario: Homer Bailey (CIN), Brandon Morrow (TOR), Anibal Sanchez (DET)
Worst-case scenario: Phil Hughes (NYY)
Jake Peavy 2013 Fantasy Projection
Don’t mistake my skepticism surrounding Peavy for pessimism. I would love to see him pitch 200+ brilliant innings, but the dude had a detached lat. I haven’t pitched off a mound in an actual game since I was 14 years old so I’m not an expert on pitching mechanics, but I’m going to guess the lat is a pretty important muscle for pitchers. Peavy is not the picture of perfect health, and something tells me we’re being generous projecting him for 29 starts and 185 innings.
But assuming he does make those 29 starts, you probably (read: definitely) won’t get a 3.37 ERA again. Peavy has evolved into a fly ball pitcher in a very hitter friendly ballpark, yet somehow he’s been able to keep his HR/FB rate below the league average in his time with the White Sox. Is he doing something that’s helped him counteract U.S. Cellular’s homer-prone dimensions? To a degree, yes. Peavy does have an above average infield fly rate — and infield flies rarely leave the ballpark –but the fact remains that he still displays strong fly ball tendencies in a ballpark with home run park factors of 120 for lefties and 143 for righties.
Peavy is still a good pitcher who will limit any damage the occasional long ball does by keeping batters off the base paths, but he’s a risky option for your fantasy staff’s third rotation spot. Like all injury-prone players, feel free to be aggressive targeting him in shallow leagues, but be a little warier in deeper leagues.