Peavy’s Predicament: Evaluating the Giants’ Fifth Starter


Aug 7, 2014; Milwaukee, WI, USA; San Francisco Giants pitcher Jake Peavy (43) pitches in the first inning against the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

We have now seen Jake Peavy pitch three games in a Giants’ uniform, and the Giants have lost all three of those games. He is two losing decisions away from tying his career worst. Despite that, he has done a fairly decent job as the Giants fifth starter, especially after being thrown right into a tough game against a division rival for his first start in the orange and black.

So far this season Peavy has averaged just above 6 innings pitched, giving up about 6 hits and 3 earned runs per game, which I’d say is really all you can ask from the fifth starter. Nobody should expect the fifth starter to be the ace; to go 7-8 innings per start with near shutout performances every time. It would be nice if Peavy could occasionally give us a game like that, but I wouldn’t expect it to be the norm.

Up to this point, Peavy has managed to keep the Giants in the games he’s pitched, but there are some issues that have plagued his starts. Not everything has been on Peavy though, so let’s take a look at what the issues are.

Lack of Run Support

This is probably the most glaring issue about Peavy’s season, especially in the months of June and July. This isn’t to say that he hasn’t received any run support at all, but lately the offense has been relatively dormant in a good portion of his starts. In 8 of his last 12 starts, the offense has scored 2 runs or less to back up his starts.

The Giants have squandered opportunities in his starts to pick up some runs, especially in the game against Milwaukee, when they had the bases loaded in the first inning and couldn’t get a run across. The only run picked up in that game for the Giants was actually a run scored by Peavy himself.

Offense is a totally separate issue though, as the Giants have had their struggles with consistency on offense. But if they can score 3 or more runs during a Peavy start, they should be in good shape.

Little Help From the Field

Errors hurt, there is no reason to sugar-coat that. Even worse is a misplayed ball that doesn’t count as an error, like the hit Daniel Murphy got off of Peavy to break up his perfect bid in the 7th; a hit that was the result of Michael Morse’s misplay of the ball.

Poor relaying by Pagan and Crawford lead to Lucroy scoring on a Ryan Braun double in the first inning of yesterday’s game. Peavy was even the victim of some of Dan Uggla’s errors in his start against the Dodgers.

These mistakes are normally avoidable, but the Giants have managed to make mistakes on even the most routine plays. So the Giants will need to find a way to tighten it up on defense when Peavy is on the mound, especially considering that Peavy induces a lot of groundballs.

Too Much Two-Seam

Peavy’s bread-and-butter used to be a fantastic two-seam fastball that could ride the corners. Which explains why he still relies on it, even though it doesn’t have the same effect it did earlier in his career.

9 of Peavy’s 19 hits given up in a Giants uniform have come off a two-seam fastball. He uses the two-seam fastball to get the outside corners, but it has started to lack that movement to hit the corner and ends up right down the middle, which can be a treat especially for right-handed hitters.

Getting Through the Third Time

This has become evident to Giants’ fans all around, Peavy struggles when he faces the opposing lineup for the third time. Half of the hits he has given up in the last three games have come after the 5th inning.

As I said earlier, 6 innings is pretty standard for the fifth starter. So maybe the hook needs to be a bit bigger for Peavy, just to make sure that he doesn’t totally remove the Giants from the game. But Bochy clearly has faith in Peavy to get the job done, a faith that was built from their history together on the Padres.

Unfortunately, those years are long gone; but the Giants can make good use of Peavy’s starts, by getting some more runs and helping out on the defensive side.