Peavy won't be White Sox's savior
Given the AL Centreal-leading Tigers' acquisition of Mariners left-hander
To begin with, Peavy is hurt. He tore a tendon in his right ankle in early June, hasn't pitched since, and isn't expected back for several of weeks -- if at all this season. Certainly the White Sox could benefit from activating Peavy down the stretch if they're still within striking distance (they're 2½ games out entering the weekend), and would benefit from his presence in the postseason should they get there. But more likely, the Tigers, with Washburn, are going to win the division.
The White Sox will instead have to settle for having the 2007 NL Cy Young Award winner around for at least three more years as Peavy is signed through 2012 with a $22 million option for 2013. That contract is a large part of the reason why Peavy was so attractive to White Sox general manager
Yet, there are reasons to temper one's excitement over Peavy's move to the second city. In addition coming from the weaker league, Peavy has spent most of his career pitching his home games in Petco Park, one of the most extreme pitchers parks in recent history and
One might also be concerned about the fact that Peavy was 18-18 with a 4.25 ERA before the Padres moved into Petco, and is 74-50 with a 3.02 ERA across five-plus seasons since, but that's not entirely fair. Peavy was just 22 when the Padres moved into Petco, so that first set of numbers comes from his age-21 and -22 seasons, and he did show improvement in the latter. Also, Qualcomm Stadium was also a very favorable ballpark for pitchers, and Peavy went 7-4 with a 3.23 ERA in 21 career starts there over his first two major league seasons. Still, that does point to the fact that Peavy has always pitched his home games in an extreme pitchers park, giving him frequent respite from the travails of the road.
Another item of concern is the quality of the White Sox's defense. Peavy is a strikeout pitcher (prior to his injury, he was striking out 10.1 men per nine innings this season), so he's less reliant on his fielders than the average hurler, but he has nonetheless benefitted from the Padres above-average ability to turn balls in play into outs behind him. When he won the Cy Young, his opponents' batting average on balls in play was .276. Last year, it was .284. In those two seasons he posted a combined ERA of 2.68. This year and in 2006, his BABIP was closer to league average (a pinch over .300) and his combined ERA from those two seasons has been 4.06. Some of that is team defense and some of it is luck, but when the luck runs out he's been just a tick better than average, and the White Sox aren't going to help him much in the field.
The league change itself is a tertiary concern at worst. Peavy has acquitted himself well in interleague play over the years (3.29 ERA, 3.42 K/BB), and now that the Indians have flipped
The one advantage Peavy would seem to gain in joining the White Sox is a significant increase in run support. The White Sox's attack has been sputtering this season, but the emergence of
So Peavy isn't a pennant-race fix, and he isn't likely to be the dominant pitcher he was for the Padres, but he's still a 28-year-old with a Cy Young and a sick strikeout rate who should anchor the White Sox rotation beside the 30-year-old Buehrle for the next few years. So what did the White Sox give up to get him?
Which brings us to