If there was ONE thing in the off-season as we followed the re-tooling efforts of our Chicago White Sox that we counted on, one thing that we could hang our hat on, one thing that you could just put in your pocket and focus on other larger issues….it was that we would now have a bona fide ace in our our starting rotation. No more soft-tossing, getting by on spit and glue, and pure guile from our beloved Mark Buehrle as the best that we had to throw against opposing teams. We now had former Cy Young Award-winner, Jake Fucking Peavy, and the rest of you out there in MLB didn’t. “Just wait until we send our guy out there to mow down the AL Central Division foes” we said. We now had an ace, and he would immediately take that #1 spot in the rotations to match up against whoever else the other squads thought were their best option against us. The guy who dominated opponents late last season, at less than full strength according to Peavy himself. Now? Whoa buddy, now he would have a full off-season to re-charge, and to completely heal from a balky ankle, and that liner that he took off the throwing elbow that derailed his July/August return to the ’09 season. We were set…right?
For all of the “ifs” in the off-season that the fans of the White Sox were concerned over, one of them (at least from this fan’s perspective) was certainly NOT the fear that Jake Peavy would be our 4th best starting pitcher. And, I believe that I am being kind, here. While yes, gaining his 4th victory of the young season yesterday against a very good Tampa Bay Rays club, the fact of the matter is that Jake Peavy = VERY hittable. Not often, can you expect to give up 5 earned runs, and 10 hits in just 5+ innings of work, and expect that your offense is going to bail you out, and that your bullpen will shut down that high-powered offense for the remaining innings to have a victory fall into your lap. Most times, that sort of outing would be described as: “getting shelled”. But, on this ocassion anyway, baseball had yet again showed us what a quirky and predictable game that it can be.
Here’s the fear. Peavy has an ERA well over 6. Good for worst on our club in terms of the 5 starters. That’s just NOT going to cut it. Not for a guy making about $15 Million Dollars. That was NOT part of the program people. Is all hope lost? No, at least not for me it isn’t. The guy is a fierce competitor, and he has shown flashes of brilliance with his stuff at times. Has the ability to bear down and come up with big pitches when absolutely needed, which provides the hope. He throws pitches sometimes that are downright nasty and unhittable, with great late movement that cause many swinging strikeouts. But, it’s the lack of control at times, and the number of hits that are the biggest cause of concern here. For the White Sox to have any legitimate chance at contending for the AL Central Division, Jake Peavy MUST get better, and fast. As it stands right now, the man who was supposed to set the bar at a high level, for all of the other pitchers to strive for, and to raise the level of play for the whole team in terms of competetiveness, and intensity…has flat-out dropped the ball (pun intended), and been a liability to this team that was not intended/expected, or can be absorbed any longer if the goal is to compete for a Division title.
As a staunch supporter of the White Sox, I fully expect that Peavy will make the necessary adjustments, and return to past form to become someone of relavance again, instead of someone of hinderance to this team…after all, we’ve got enough other of those problems, we certainly don’t need to be spending any more of this current under-achieving season wondering “what’s wrong with Jake Peavy?”