Red Sox gambling on Peavy

The Guru
Contributing Writer

Jake Peavy rolls into Fenway Park today with a Cy Young Award resume, a pricey contract, a lengthy injury history and plenty of fan excitement.

As the dust settles on the trade that sent Jose Iglesias out of town, let’s take a long, hard look at what the Red Sox are actually getting.

Warning: You may not like what you are about to see.

The Resume:
In 12 major league seasons, Peavy is 124-97 with a 3.49 ERA and 1824 strikeouts in 1880 innings. In five American League seasons, he's 36-29 with an ERA of 4.00. Peavy won his National League Cy Young in 2006 when he went 19-6 with a 2.54 ERA and led the league with 240 strikeouts. Great season. But it is the only season in which he has won more than 15 games. In the past 8 seasons, Peavy has won more than 10 games just once; last season when he went 11-12.  Since 2006, Peavy is 55-46 with an ERA about 4.00. In that same time, Ryan Dempster is 73- 64 with an ERA just over 4.00.

Tale of the tape:
Peavy has been called a “horse”, a “bulldog”, a “warrior”. Peavy has been compared to power right-handers Roger Clemens and Curt Schilling. Digging deeper, Peavy is no bull, in fact he’s undersized. At 6’1, 182 pounds this is no Clemens or Schilling. Clemens and Schilling regularly topped 200-innings in their careers. Peavy? In the last five seasons, he has broken the 180-innings mark just one time. During Peavy’s best season, 7 years ago, his fastball topped 96 mph. This season the velocity has slipped to 90, the lowest since his rookie season.

Bring on the playoffs:
How does Peavy shape up against the Red Sox competition in the American League? Last season against the Tigers, Rays and Yankees, Peavy went 2-5 with a 6.30 ERA. In eight career starts against Baltimore, Texas and Oakland, Peavy is 3-2 with an ERA around 5.00. Peavy has one career start at Fenway Park, not exactly a big sample, he’s 1-0 with a 3.86 ERA. Peavy has been called a “big game” pitcher. Really? In Peavy’s two post season appearances he is 0-2 with an ERA of 12.10 ERA.

It’s expected Peavy will get five or six starts over the last 52 games of the season. That is, if he can stay healthy. Peavy has started 20 games just once the past five seasons, mostly due to time spent on the disabled list. Peavy has dealt with a number of injuries over his career including two broken ribs, a tight groin, arm fatigue, a sore elbow, sprained ankle, and in 2010, a torn latissimus dorsi tendon in his shoulder that resulted in a surgery that has since been dubbed “Jake Peavy surgery”.  I’m no doctor, but it’s never good when you get a surgery named after you.

Place your bets:
The Red Sox are gambling here. Gambling that Peavy holds the cards that can propel them to another World Series title. If Peavy stays healthy and performs to his averages over the past five seasons, the Sox have rolled the dice on a 32-year-old number three starter for 14 months and nearly $30 million.

Will Peavy pay off or will Boston go bust? Let’s talk in October.

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