Boston Red Sox: Why Starting Jake Peavy Was Not Worth the Risk

Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

The Boston Red Sox are down 2-1 to the St. Louis Cardinals after a 5-4 loss in Game 3 of the World Series. Competing for their third title in the past decade, they face an intriguing question that demands an answer. Was starting Jake Peavy in the Fall Classic the wrong move?

The Red Sox acquired Peavy at the end of July in a three-way trade involving the Chicago White Sox and the Detroit Tigers, sending highly touted shortstop, Jose Iglesias to Detroit. Peavy found instant success and made positive contributions to the Sox rotation as he posted a 4-1 record along with a 4.04 ERA. The former Cy Young winner was hoping to resurrect his stalled career in Boston after some subpar years in Chicago with the White Sox.

Peavy finished the season with a total record of 12-5 and an ERA of 4.17 proving to be a reliable option in the Sox rotation. Unfortunately, his blatant success didn’t seem to transfer well over to the postseason.

Though Peavy was racking up wins, he was also giving up a lot of runs in the process. It was the Sox’ powerhouse offense that was capable of bailing him out. In the month of September, the final month of the regular season, Peavy was beginning to revert to his old ways. In four games pitched, Peavy averaged a 5.40 ERA. His poor performance and inconsistency seemed to plague him throughout the month of October as well.

In Game 4 of the ALDS against the Tampa Bay Rays, Peavy pitched well enough to receive the win. In 5.2 innings pitched, Peavy gave up five hits, one earned run, and struck out three in a 3-1 Red Sox victory. Unfortunately, things have gone down hill from there.

In the ALCS against the Tigers, Peavy had a total meltdown in a 7-3 Tigers win. Peavy only pitched three innings while giving up seven earned runs, walking three batters and didn’t receive the defensive support that he truly needed. Though Peavy couldn’t find control on his pitches, Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia made some costly errors which, in turn, caused runs to be scored, ultimately sealing the Red Sox’ fate in Game 3.

After being roughed up for seven runs, one would have to think that Peavy was hurt more mentally than physically as this may have taken a drastic hit to his self confidence. The Red Sox may not have wanted to take a risk on him as they weren’t entirely sure of which Peavy would show up. Well, Jake Peavy did in fact show up, but he probably should have stayed home.

In Game 3 of the World Series, Peavy gave up six hits, two earned runs and struck out four batters. This comes as no surprise as Peavy’s statistics in autumn are not only subpar, but they’re among the worst in over a century of postseason history.

According to David Sabino (boston.com) of all pitchers who’ve started at least two postseason games since 1903, Peavy’s 12.10 ERA ranks 13th worst, his 2.38 WHIP is 19th and his 17.7 hits per nine innings places ninth. Both of his playoff starts came against the Cardinals, both in the opener of the NLDS, one in 2005 and the other in 2006.

Seeing that Peavy is historically not a good postseason pitcher, especially against the Cardinals, the inevitable was bound to happen. The Red Sox may be regretting their decision of starting Peavy, but considering that Clay Buchholz was hurt and will be starting Game 4, they may of had no other choice.

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