Boston Red Sox Catching Up With Old Friends: Jake Peavy


Jake Peavy was an important piece of the Red Sox and San Francisco Giants in their ’13 and ’14 title runs.  How did he get there and what does the future hold for him?

Jake Peavy was a Red Sox starter for almost a calendar year, getting acquired by trade then sent from the Red Sox in a trade almost exactly a year apart, in 2013 and 2014. While not a spectacular contributor he was one of the veterans that instilled a winning attitude in the team. Where is he now?

Peavy excelled from the start of his professional career. In his first pro season with the San Diego Padres, Peavy posted a 1.17 ERA in the minors over 84 innings. By 2002, Peavy was tearing up AA to the tune of a 2.80 ERA when he was called up to the majors, just after his 21st birthday. By his third major league season, Peavy led the National League in ERA which somehow got him no Cy Young votes. He led the National League in strikeouts in 2005, earning his first All-Star selection. In 2007, Peavy won the National League Triple Crown in pitching, leading the league in wins (19), ERA (2.54) and strikeouts (240), which also earned him a Cy Young by unanimous choice. The Padres rewarded Peavy with a three year, $52 million deal, perhaps believing he would be the cornerstone of franchise success. After playoff appearances in 2005 and 2006, the Padres were in the thick of the National League West down to the wire in 2007, finishing just 1.5 games out of first.

This plan did not come to fruition, as the Padres slumped to 63 wins the next season. Peavy posted a 2.85 ERA but on a bad team was able to post just a 10-11 record, after going 19-6 the year before. Peavy missed five starts with elbow discomfort which was the start of a run of five seasons without being able to make more than 27 starts. In 2009, it was clear the Padres were not going to be good, so the Padres shipped him to the White Sox at the 2009 trade deadline for four prospects. The White Sox were only 1.5 games out of first at the time, but faded to a third place finish. Peavy had trouble staying healthy in 2010 and 2011, making only 37 starts over those two seasons, posting ERAs of 4.63 and 4.92. Peavy rebounded in 2012 to a 3.37 ERA, making all his starts and garnering another All-Star selection. The White Sox did not pick up his 2013 option but signed him to a new $29 million, two year deal.

While the White Sox were in contention in 2010 and 2012 (leading the division into late September that year) during Peavy’s tenure with them, the team slumped in 2013. The White Sox engineered a three team deal with the Red Sox and the Detroit Tigers at the trade deadline, sending Peavy and reliever Brayan Villarreal to Boston. The Red Sox parted with three prospects to the White Sox and in a move that made some scratch their heads at the time, sent defensive marvel, short stop Jose Iglesias to the Tigers. The blossoming of Xander Bogaerts in 2015 makes this look like a smart move since the trade of Iglesias cleared the path for Bogaerts at shortstop.  It would have been a great story if Peavy had been able to regain his earlier form, but the Red Sox just needed him to anchor the rotation at the back end.  The Red Sox, helped by two wins by Peavy and his purchase of a lucky cigar store Indian in San Francisco in late August, pulled away from the pack to win the American League East by six games.

Though Peavy had pitched to a respectable 4.04 ERA in 2013 during the regular season, his postseason was lackluster. Peavy’s postseason numbers were 10 earned runs allowed in 12.2 innings (7.11 ERA). Peavy enjoyed riding in a duck boat for the Red Sox victory parade so much he bought one of them for himself. The Red Sox hoped that Peavy would be a stalwart for another playoff run in 2014.

The Peavy story had more twists and turns for 2014, however. Along with a greatly disappointing team performance, Peavy pitched in some of the worst luck of his career. Though throwing 12 quality starts out of 20 starts (three earned runs or less in at least six innings), Peavy managed to only win one game while posting a 4.72 ERA. With the 2014 Red Sox going nowhere fast, Peavy was a prime candidate to leave at the trade deadline and the Red Sox traded him to the Giants for relievers Heath Hembree and Edwin Escobar. Hembree pitched to a 3.55 ERA in 25.1 innings for the 2015 Red Sox (though a troubling 5.58 FIP) and Escobar pitched just four innings in the majors for 2015.

Next: Red Sox sign Chris Young for 2 years/$13 million

Somehow, Peavy righted his ship and pitched like the elite pitcher he was years ago, posting a 2.17 ERA over 12 starts to help the Giants get back to the playoffs. He followed a similar script to the year before, pitching well in the Division Series before getting lit up in future rounds. In the World Series, Peavy allowed nine runs on 12 hits in just 6.1 innings. Still, he was on the World Series champion for the second straight season. The Giants rewarded him for his stretch run with a two year/ $24 million deal which will expire after next season. Peavy pitched decently for the Giants in 2015, posting a 3.58 ERA over 19 starts. The veteran certainly enjoyed the Giants cavernous home park, pitching to a 3.02 ERA vs. 4.24 on the road.

After the nightmare that was the 2014 season, Red Sox fans were certainly happy for the affable Peavy that he was able to pitch better down the stretch, providing a stabilizing force for the eventual World Champion Giants. In any discussion of the Red Sox 2013 title run, Peavy should play a prominent part for his enthusiasm, professionalism and competitiveness.