It of course seems absurd now, but with Jake Peavy returning for the first time to game action (quasi-game action) since detaching his lat muscle last July, I was really only prepared for one thing.
Not necessarily that he’d get hurt again, but that he’d lack velocity, or not have any control, or go back to that period from last April where he couldn’t throw a good slider for some reason. In a year and a half of Jake in Chicago, there’s been 10 money starts, and a brilliant menagerie of trauma.
But in tossing 2 innings where he yielded no runs and no hits, fanned two, walked one, and allowed one decently hit fly ball to center. Jake was by no means a disaster. Or even bad.
In the aftermath of Peavy not bringing anything negative–and the giddiness that entails–we can actually begin taking stock of what today’s continuation of the Sox starters’ no-hit streak means.
(By the way, 10 innings of no-hit ball from the starters?!!? If we’re going pretend that Lillibridge, McPherson, and De Aza not hitting in the clutch is somehow meaningful, have to do the same for the rotation)
For one, he’s not Freddy Garcia*
Peavy was reported by new Sun-Times Sox beat writer Daryl Van Schouwen as being in the low 90s velocity-wise, which is about where he averages for his career, but lacked his occasional ability to jack it one or two miles above that. As J.J. Stankevitz pointed out, two innings is no kind of a test of endurance, but it’s safe to say that we can rule out any kind of massive loss of zip where Jake has to figure out to pitch in an entirely different way.
Given the way he fared with reduced velocity early last season, I don’t imagine there was much excitement about that.
The stuff is there
He didn’t even go once around the lineup, let alone two or three, but Peavy already using his breaking stuff effectively is a positive. Ramon Castro already commented that his breaking pitches were sharp in throwing sessions, and Jake using a slider to finish off the first hitter he faced confirmed it. This is not to pronounce his stuff as being perfect, but we’re watching out for signs that he’s fundamentally changed from the pitcher he was, and Jake didn’t give us any reason to think that.
Virtually meaningless intangibles
It has pretty much nothing to do with pitching, but to see Peavy return to his normal, rageaholic, self-chastising self on the mound was a relief. It was like being happy to see your crazy, alcoholic uncle again, but only because you had it on good authority that he had been kidnapped. If I wanted to aggressively extrapolate what the return of Peavy’s old mannerisms meant, I’d say that if he was feeling hesitant and overly cautious about his arm, these traits would be absent…or at least subdued. They weren’t subdued Friday, and now some kids in attendance know some new words. Education!
Conclusions drawn after two innings of work are dubious, if not inherently BS. While we were all watching Peavy, marveling how healthy he seemed, and thinking it perfectly plausible that he could ready for game action in a month, Jon Heyman was tweeting that he won’t be back till May.
Jake’s readiness is an unknown; and will continue to be one for a few weeks more probably. But today, Sox fans should be encouraged, not discouraged.
It is Spring, after all.
*I worry that this could be interpreted as a dig toward Freddy Garcia; a fine pitcher who gave the White Sox many years of fine service. It’s not. It’s a reference to how the injury Garcia suffered with the Phillies, which weakened him to a point where his fastball is 4 mph off of its peak average. He’s survived, but with a drastically different approach that is significantly more dependent on mixing speeds.
In addition to the piece I linked to earlier, read J.J.’s piece on FIP’s troubles with judging the performance of Mark Buehrle. J.J. proves again that contrary to popular belief, sabermatricians watch baseball, and even enjoy it.
Jim Margalus’ book is on sale. I have already bought my copy. That should be sufficient endorsement.