Breaking down Peavy's success

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Breaking down Peavy's success

Jake Peavy's repeated it over and over. He's healthy, and he's ready to finally be the pitcher the Sox thought they were getting at the trade deadline in 2009.

But any skepticism regarding the 31-year-old coming into the season was warranted. He hasn't thrown more than 112 innings since coming to the White Sox, and he hasn't made 30 starts since he won the NL Cy Young in 2007. Along the way, he's shown flashes of his old self, but those have quickly been drowned out by injuries or ineffectiveness.

It'd be easy to simply say Peavy's first five start of 2012 are a return to his pre-2008 form. They're not. They're the beginning of the post-2011 Peavy.

Five years ago, Peavy was a blow-it-by-you pitcher with electric stuff. He averaged over nine strikeouts per nine innings from 2004-2007, featuring a fastball with an average velocity that crept into the mid-90's.

But a spate of injuries took some life off Peavy's fastball. His average velocity on that pitch dipped to 90.7 mph in 2011, which was the first year in which Peavy started to make a change in the way he pitched.

With his days of averaging a strikeout per inning gone, Peavy became extremely stingy with walks. He averaged just 1.93 walks per nine innings last season, a career best. Unfortunately, Peavy struggled with command, and a dead arm period didn't help. His ERA after 111 23 innings last year was 4.92.

But so far in 2012, it looks like Peavy has figured out how to be a different pitcher. His strikeout rate has remained consistent (7.66 K9 to 7.88 K9) while his walk rate has dipped a bit (1.93 BB9, 1.19 BB9) and he's doing an outstanding job of keeping the ball in the ballpark.

That Peavy's only allowed seven runs all year is a pretty good indicator that he's keeping the opposition off-balance, utilizing his repertoire to its fullest. Interestingly enough, Peavy's pitch selection isn't too far off from what he did in 2007, per FanGraphs:

YearFBSLCTCBCH200757.423.29.32.57.4201254.520.411.45.08.7
But Peavy's been hitting his spots and mixing these pitches better than he has since he joined the White Sox. His stuff isn't as good as it was five years ago, but he's adapted to it and, despite the same arsenal of offerings, become a different pitcher.

On the flip side...

Not everything is looking up for Peavy, though. He hasn't kept the ball on the ground, as 57 percent of the balls he's allowed to be put into play have been in the air. Only about 2 percent of those fly balls have gone for home runs, which isn't sustainable. If Peavy keeps allowing so many fly balls, eventually his luck will turn and more of them will go over the fence.

The good news is that Peavy's allowed one ground ball for every fly ball over the course of his career, so his high fly ball rate through five starts probably won't persist. But eventually, he will have to do something different, less he risk giving up quite a few home runs as the season goes on.

That's really the only real point of concern regarding Peavy's performance going forward. He's not going to sustain a 1.67 ERA, but a mark in the low-3.00 range is hardly out of the question.

Of course, if he stays healthy. That's going to be the issue for Peavy all season. He's proven, so far, that he can pitch like an ace. But, unfortunately, his injury-riddled past four seasons mean there always will be concern about a trip to the disabled list.

If Peavy can stay off the shelf, though, he looks primed for a fantastic season.

Tim Anderson's birthday present from home plate umpire was first major-league ejection

Tim Anderson's birthday present from home plate umpire was first major-league ejection

On his 24th birthday, Tim Anderson’s present from home plate umpire Jim Wolf was his first major-league ejection.

In the fifth inning of the White Sox 3-0 loss to the Oakland Athletics, Anderson fouled off a pitch that landed in the opposing batter’s box. But A’s catcher Bruce Maxwell picked it up in what was ruled to be fair territory and threw the ball to first for the out.

Anderson pleaded his case saying the ball went foul. Wolf agreed, according to Anderson, which only further confused the White Sox shortstop.

“I told him that was BS,” Anderson said. “And he tossed me.”

Anderson said that he was surprised to be ejected so fast. So was manager Rick Renteria, who was thrown out moments after Anderson.

“I don’t want to get in trouble,” Renteria said. “The players having emotion, they are battling. I just think we need to grow a little thicker skin.”

Anderson said that he was appreciative of his manager coming to his defense.

“He kinda had a point and let me know he had my back,” Anderson said of Renteria. “Speaks a lot of him.”

A day after scoring nine runs on 18 hits, the White Sox failed to generate any offense on Friday. The team’s best chance came in the ninth inning.

But with runners at the corners and two outs, Matt Davidson put a good rip on the ball to center field, only to fly out at the warning track.

Anderson and Renteria were watching the game together in the clubhouse, and both believed the White Sox had tied the ballgame.

“We all jumped up and were excited but it kind of fell short,” Anderson said.

White Sox Talk Podcast: Exclusive interview with Mark Buehrle

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: Exclusive interview with Mark Buehrle

On the latest edition of the White Sox Talk Podcast, Chuck Garfien goes 1-on-1 with the star of the weekend, Mark Buehrle.

Buehrle tells an absolutely amazing bachelor party story and discloses why he wore No. 56.

Take a trip down memory lane and listen to the White Sox Talk Podcast here