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Peavy's problematic postseason past

Posted by David Sabino  August 1, 2013 08:25 AM

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Peavy.jpgThe Red Sox made a big splash late Tuesday night acquiring Jake Peavy from the White Sox (along with reliever Brayan Villarreal from the Tigers) for a package headlined by Jose Iglesias who landed in Detroit, and a trio of minor leaguers who, with Tigers outfielder Avisail Garcia, ended up in Chicago. In terms of the 2013 season, there’s no doubt that Peavy, the 2007 NL Cy Young Award winner was the big catch in the transaction, stabilizing Boston’s rotation down the stretch.

Given that the Red Sox are on solid footing to at least claim an AL Wild Card slot, leading the division by ½ game and ahead of the top Wild Card outsiders by 5½ games, Peavy could get the chance to correct one of the only black marks on what otherwise has been an impressive career.

In 296 regular season big league appearances (295 of those starts) the 32-year old righthander has a 128-97 record (.569) with a 3.49 ERA, 1.18 WHIP and a strikeout-to-walk rate of 3.23—all quite solid for a starting pitcher who pitched mainly in an era where offense has ruled. He twice led the NL in ERA (in 2004 when his 2.27 bested Randy Johnson’s 2.60, and in 2007 his 2.54 topped Brandon Webb’s 3.01) and twice led his league in strikeouts (‘05 & ‘07).

Peavy’s statistics in the autumn are dramatically different however. Not only are they subpar, they’re among the worst in over a century of postseason history. 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. Obviously his 9⅔ in two starts is a tiny sample size—both of his playoff starts came against the Cardinals, both in the opener of the NLDS, one in 2005 and the other in 2006—but his past troubles have to be a concern, be it ever so slight, when John Farrell is setting up his postseason rotation which already included some combination of Jon Lester, John Lackey, Ryan Dempster, Felix Dubront and (hopefully) Clay Buchholz.

Here's how Peavy's playoffs compare with other active players and also the other members of the Cy Young Award fraternity.

Pitchers (minimum two postseason starts) active in the majors in 2013, with the highest career playoff ERAs:

Rick Ankiel*†--- 2 games, 16.20 ERA, 4.20 WHIP, 13.5 H/9
Shaun Marcum†--- 3 games, 14.90 ERA, 2.28 WHIP, 15.8 H/9
Jake Peavy--- 2 games, 12.10 ERA, 2.38 WHIP, 17.7 H/9
Brian Duensing--- 2 games, 11.25 ERA, 2.00 WHIP, 15.8 H/9
Ervin Santana--- 2 games, 9.31 ERA, 1.45, WHIP, 10.2 H/9
* No longer pitching †Played in 2013 but not currently on a roster

Cy Young Award winners with the highest career playoff ERAs:
Pitcher Games ERA WHIP Hits/9
Jake Peavy--- 2 games, 12.10 ERA, 2.38 WHIP, 17.7 H/9
Pat Hentgen--- 3 games, 9.24 ERA, 2.45 WHIP, 14.9 H/9
Don Newcombe--- 5 games, 8.59 ERA, 1.68 WHIP, 11.9 H/9
Jack McDowell ---4 games, 8.55 ERA, 1.85 WHIP, 12.2 H/9
Zack Greinke---3 games, 6.48 ERA, 1.62 WHIP, 12.4 H/9

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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Stats Driven is powered by David Sabino, who over the last two decades has been a source of statistical analysis on the pages of Sports Illustrated, New York Times, and Chicago Tribune. David has written about all seven recent Boston-area championships for Sports Illustrated Presents commemorative issues, was the creator of such long time features as SI’s Player Value Ranking, NBA Player Rating and long running fantasy football and baseball columns.

He has also authored or made contributions to many books, including the Sports Illustrated’s 100 Fenway: A Fascinating First Century.

Now living in Marblehead, he’s focusing his attention on the Boston sports scene, specifically delving into the numbers affecting the Red Sox, Patriots, Celtics and Bruins, with the goal of informing and entertaining real fans. You can follow him on Twitter at @SabinoSports.

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