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White Sox Wed May 02 2012

Peavy in Fine Form Early for Sox

Jake Peavy has had a peculiar career. Really, you can divide it into two: There was the pre-2009 Peavy (a.k.a, San Diego Jake), a stud pitcher who always kept his ERA under 3.00.

Then, there is the Peavy of the past two seasons. This version not only has had injury problems (pitching only 44 games since mid-2009) but has also suffered a statistical decline. His ERA ballooned to the high 4s, his K/9 ratio dipped to the 7s, and his ERA+ was nowhere near his high of 171 in 2004.

And yes, it is the latter version we've seen here with the White Sox.

But the first month of 2012 has been a pleasant surprise.

Peavy had a strong outing against Texas to start the season. Then, he handled Detroit for his first victory. He picked up his second win against Baltimore, allowing one run over seven innings. And then he had a masterful, throwback performance in Oakland, going all nine innings while only giving up three hits and zero runs.

Even though he lost his first game of the season against Boston on Saturday he again went the distance and shined with only one run and four hits given up.

It's still too early to say he is back to being Jake Peavy, but he pitched extremely well in April. Peavy is tied for fifth in the American League with 33 strikeouts (to only five walks), and he's first in WHIP (0.69) and second in ERA (1.67). He's also dominating advanced pitching statistics, leading the league in quality starts (5), average game score (71.0), component ERA (0.82), defense-independent ERA (2.29) and WAR (1.6).

Here's the best indication that the numbers are no fluke: again, Peavy has faced Texas (first in MLB in runs scored, batting average and slugging and second in OBP), Boston (third, second, third and seventh in those same categories), Detroit (with Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder as their three-four combo) and Baltimore (14-9, second in the AL East). The only slouch was Oakland.

Where to go from here? Keith Law of ESPN.com suggested on a recent podcast that the Sox should consider trading Peavy if he continues this pace into June. Law had a couple good points: Peavy does have an injury history, and the Sox farm system is so bad that even getting a few marginal prospects will help the organization. Trading Peavy would be a safe move and a way to improve for the future.

But...

Check the AL Central standings. As of right now, the Sox are tied for third at 11-11. They have the only positive run differential (+3). The leader, Cleveland, is 11-9, but got 10 of their wins from the Royals, A's, Mariners and the Struggling Angels (their new name, dontcha know). They're all right.

Detroit is second, at 11-11, yet recently was swept by Seattle at home. While their Big 2 has been hitting well, the pitching (23rd in ERA) has disappointed. The other two teams, Kansas City and Minnesota, both only have six wins.

With Chicago sitting at .500, the Sox have a realistic chance to make the postseason, especially considering their competition. If in mid-July, Chicago is either leading or only a few games back (definitely a possibility with their strong starting pitching and the core of the lineup producing), why deal Peavy and submarine the season?

Of course, the Sox will ponder moving Peavy if and when they get to the scenario just described. But for now, Chicago should stand pat and ride the wave.

 

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