Jake Peavy was announced as the AL pitcher of the month for April. As Gonzales notes, the award "validates" Peavy's resurgence, but there was plenty to point to already.
Peavy is currently the AL ERA leader with a sparkling 1.67 mark, and has the second-best strikeout-to-walk ratio and HR-rate among starters. All of his outings have been quality starts.
He's also recovered the most of the velocity that marked his healthy years. Brooks Baseball pegs his average four-seam fastball at 91.8 mph, compared to 93 mph for his career. That's as good of a return as could be expected for a guy who had his lat muscle snap off the bone 22 months ago. While the strikeouts haven't returned to the level with which Peavy won a Cy Young in 2007, he's compensated by walking almost no one.
As could be expected, Peavy has credited his renewed health for his recovery. The way he refers to the past two seasons in Chicago raises questions about the assurances he offered at the time, but now that the results are here, there's less of a need to scrutinize his claims.
What is of concern is Jake's groundball rate. Only 24.5% of balls hit off of Peavy are going to the ground, which is the lowest mark in baseball. It's also 17% lower than Peavy's career mark, and doesn't point to an effective approach for U.S. Cellular Field, where fly balls turn into home runs with alarming frequency.
That's not to say that Peavy hasn't been on fire, because he has been. But when any guy posts a sub-2.00 ERA in the American League for a month--especially someone with Jake's recent track record--there are reasons to look for helium in his profile. More groundballs will likely come, but so will more home runs, especially if this figure doesn't right itself soon.
For what it's worth, the equally-on-fire Colby Lewis has the second-worst groundball rate in baseball presently.
Peavy's award comes right along with Paul Konerko winning AL Player of the Week on Monday, for hitting .435 with three doubles and three home runs, which followed up Philip Humber winning the same award for throwing a perfect game the week before. Meanwhile, Adam Dunn hit an opposite-field home run Wednesday night to pull into the team need with six, and Alex Rios has been the subject of glowing reclamation profiles as well.
It all serves to illustrate just how much has gone right for the Sox in terms of getting production from many of the volatile elements of their roster, but also how much they've been dragged down by the back end to only be sporting a 12-12 record.
At this rate, tracking the progress of the bottom of the order will be a more popular practice than it has it any business being.
Dayan Viciedo has a four-game hitting streak, and finally took another walk Tuesday night. Brent Morel has raised his batting average 50 points in the last 10 games...all the way up to .188. He resembles the player from the 1st half of last season, poking balls the other way, with no walks or power to support it.
Gordon Beckham generated the most attention with a vintage 3-hit performance Tuesday, where he performed admirably against his oldest foe; the fastball.
Yet until more concrete follow-ups start cropping up, it's a lot more tenuous situation than Peavy and the rotation which doesn't have to keep pitching over its head once John Danks to return to normal.
As Jim pointed out this morning at SSS, the comedowns are coming. Konerko's back-to-back hitless nights affirm that he has no intentions to hit .400, Pierzynski isn't a power-hitter by trade despite his torrid start, and Alex Rios may be losing his foothold.
The early superlative performances from Peavy and Konerko, and others have expanded the top-level potential for this team beyond what was initially conceived, but more is needed.