The Return of Jake Peavy: Will It Last?

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Jake Peavy Chicago White Sox

Jake Peavy is back, at least for a little while. The 2007 NL Cy-Young award-winner lasted six innings against the LA Angels Wednesday night, giving up seven hits and four runs while striking out four in his first start since detaching his latissimus dorsi muscle last July against the Angels. It’s been a difficult road  for Peavy, however. He’s overcome multiple setbacks before returning to the rotation, and there’s the possibility he will encounter more as the season continues.

By attempting to come back prior to his start Wednesday, Peavy hurt his chances of being reliable in the future. With $15 million invested in him in 2010 and another $16 million coming in for 2011, Peavy’s 21 starts for the White Sox don’t justify the means. In additon, the White Sox traded four healthy pitchers who contributed to their teams while Peavy nursed both his ankle and shoulder.

Athletes like Peavy often re-injure themselves, making it hard  to determine how long he’ll help the White Sox this season. If history repeats itself, Peavy might injure himself when the White Sox need him most, making it harder to pay him for being sporadic.

The money spent on Peavy should have gone towards developing one of the  pitchers traded to the San Diego Padres into a full-time starter. Since the trade, each of the pitchers exchanged for Peavy has stayed relatively healthy, but not all enjoy success:

  • Clayton Richard – After two years with the White Sox, Richard has played well as a starter for San Diego where he’s 20-15 with a 3.96 ERA over the past three years. His 14-9 season last year was arguably the best of his career when he posted a career-low 3.75 ERA over 33 games. He’s off to a slow start this year, winning only one of his eight games while allowing 30 runs in 41.1 innings pitched. Still, he has the best overall numbers of the four players traded for Peavy and could have been a reliable fifth starter.
  • Aaron Poreda – As a reliever for the triple-A Tuscon Padres, Poreda is 2-0 with a 4.50 ERA in 16 games this year. Since Poreda was traded, he spent most of his time in the Minor Leagues after appearing in 14 games for San Diego in 2009. The 6 ft. 6 in. 240-pound southpaw could have provided some competition with Matt Thornton in the bullpen for a closer role that is anything but solidified.
  • Dexter Carter – Carter is struggling for San Diego’s single-A Fort Wayne TinCaps with a 1-4 record and a 6.63 ERA over 11 games. After the trade, Carter didn’t win more than 2 games in each of his successive seasons in the Padre’s farm system. Even though he’s having trouble, Carter had potential with White Sox considering his 6-2 record and 3.13 ERA with Kannapolis prior to being traded.
  • Adam Russell – After two solid seasons in the Padres bullpen, Russell is succeeding as a reliever for the Tampa Bay Rays. He’s compiled a 1-1 record and a 2.84 ERA in 14 games for Tampa Bay, and would have provided help with the White Sox struggling bullpen.

If Peavy doesn’t stay healthy, the White Sox will probably regret their 2009 trade with San Diego. Only time will tell if Peavy can live up to the hype and be the ace that he’s capable of becoming.

-Jacob Gregus

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  1. Jeff Levine says

    Peavy will never be as valuable to the Sox as Ross Baumgarten or Steve Rosenberg

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