Part of becoming a blogger for a team is getting beaten over the head with the daily narrative. You watch every game (thanks to your friend/enemy, the DVR), read the press, and the blogs, and a lot sooner than you realize, you gain perspective. Perspective is nice, as it's a great guard against saying crazy nonsense that will never be true, but also inhibits your ability to get too excited about...well...anything. The slow creep to becoming a sourpuss starts, and the only way to combat it is with bold, conscious attempts to be boldly positive.
Well, consider this a reckless attempt to do just that.
Buying in to the viability of Jake Peavy's total recovery is dubious for three primary reasons; he suffered a remarkably serious injury with no real prior precedent for recovery, his lack of durability has been well-established in three consecutive sub-200 inning seasons, and the incredibly poor credibility he's made for himself based on the trauma of last season.
If there was someone you could justify ignoring daily encouraging reports and quotes about being full-strength from, it would be Peavy.
This is more than legitimate reason to be doubting and cautious, but at a certain point, doubting without tangible cause seems like just covering my ass rather than just stating what jumps out watching footage of Peavy.
He seems just fine.
In three outings, Jake has increased his workload incrementally at a pace comparable to the rest of the starting staff, showed a familiar level of movement and snap on his breaking pitches (most importantly the slider), and steadily increased his velocity up from the 88-92 mph range Daryl Van Schouwen of the Sun-Times reported from his first start, to the 91-94 mph range Don Cooper reported Jake being at on the Monday afternoon telecast. 91-94 just happens to be his career norms.
Of course, I could be accused of not watching the game Monday--instead just listening to Hawk & Stoney pour powdered sugar on everything--if I didn't mention that Peavy hung more than a few sliders, left some fastballs up, seemed to wear down after three innings, and adjusted pretty poorly to his own attempt to work out of the stretch in the 4th inning. As optimistic as I am about Peavy, I must admit that he will need to work out of the stretch at some point in 2011.
These struggles are emblematic of something that is known by all; Jake Peavy hasn't pitched a real major league game in 8 months. He lacks endurance, and isn't sharp, just like half the guys in Spring Training being asked to throw extended innings. The heat's there, the stuff is there, the stamina isn't, but that wasn't was in danger of never coming back.
This isn't an invitation to get carried away. With the state of Jake's current endurance and the knowledge that the team is going to force him to drag his feet means missing a few starts in April is very possible. The long-term adjustment to U.S. Cellular Field and Ozzie's post-lat squeamishness on Jake's workload means his 6 WAR days are probably over (maybe a good thing, no White Sox fan wants to hear Jake say "Things are going to be like 2007 again!").
As sure as the sun rises, Jake could crumple in a heap on his next throw, as is true for all pitchers. But he until he shows something other than positive momentum, we can hold off on thinking about that....up until the next start, that is.
Confused? Annoyed? Read my stat primer. It's a fun read...at least as far as stat primers go.