Jake Peavy was nothing more than a southern boy who could throw hard. The Padres drafted him in the 15th round of the amateur draft and sent him to play rookie ball. They didn’t know what they had at the time. They only hoped they knew.
Peavy quickly dominated the rookie league in Arizona and Idaho posting a combined 9-1 record, 1.17 ERA, 103 strikeouts, and only 24 walks. All this was in 84.2 innings pitched at the ripe old age of 18. He continued his success in class-A ball in 2000. He pitched 132.2 innings, struck out 164, and had a 3.09:1 strikeout to walk ratio. He was well on his way to proving he may have been worth a bit more than a 15th round pick.
2001 saw Peavy’s promotion to both high-A ball and double-A ball. Between the two leagues he went 9-6, had a 2.97 ERA, and a ridiculous 188 strikeouts in 133.1 innings pitched. That happened to be Peavy’s last full year of Minor League baseball.
2002 and 2003 were adjustment years for Peavy as he pitched for the Padres in the “show.” He had ERA’s of 4.52 and 4.11 respectively. Then 2004 happened. Jake Peavy turned himself into an ace. Peavy went 15-6 with a 2.27 ERA, capturing the ERA title for that year. He struck out 173 batters and posted his first above 4 WAR at 4.5. The following year Peavy led the Padres to a division crown and led the league in strike outs. However, injuries that would soon plague his career began to slow him down. He broke a rib celebrating the division title, then during the off-season nagging injuries led to mechanical adjustments. But he still managed to finish with 215 strikeouts in 2006.
In 2007, Peavy finally garnered the national attention that had been paid to him for years by those in San Diego. He won the pitcher’s triple-crown by leading the league in wins (19), ERA (2.54), and strikeouts (240). He was the unanimous Cy Young award winner for 2007 and looked to be well on his way to a career of total domination. Peavy tried to stave off a trade from the cash-strapped Padres, but even with a strained tendon from running bases, he was eventually dealt to the White Sox in July of 2009.
Strained ankle and all, Peavy became a member of the Chicago White Sox. He finished the 2009 season strong, going 3-0 with a 1.35 ERA for the White Sox. But Peavy’s injury struggles would follow him into the 2010 season. In July of 2010, Peavy suffered a detached muscle in his upper back, an injury never before seen in Major League Baseball. No one was quite sure if or when Peavy would return. But he did. He struggled through another injury-plagued season this year, but finished strong.
Jake Peavy’s start last night, in which he went 6.1 innings striking out nine and giving up no runs, is expected to be his last of the season. He will be given the entire off-season to get healthy and hopefully return to 100%.
Whether Peavy can do so remains up in the air. He has only started 30 or more games in a season three times in his career. He’s seen more than his fair share of injuries. Yet, at only 30, he’ll be 31 mid-way through next year, Peavy still has time. He’s never completely lost the ability to strike people out. Peavy’s swinging strike rate for his career is 11.2%. It dropped off in 2009 to 8.3%, but showed signs of recovery this year with a rate if 9.2%.
An off-season of rest, focus, and training will hopefully bring Jake Peavy back. This may very well be his last chance to regain the stuff that made him so nasty. This may be his last chance to regain the form that saw him rack up the second highest K/9 ratio and the second lowest ERA in baseball between 2004-2007.