Last month the Houston Astros shipped off their starting shortstop, Jed Lowrie, and an inconsistent relief pitcher, Fernando Rodriguez, to the Oakland A’s for Chris Carter, Brad Peacock and Max Stassi. The trade came with mixed reviews from the fanbase, but one player could end up making this trade outstanding for the Astros. The enigmatic Brad Peacock has shown brilliance at times and has been lambasted at other times. Let’s take a look at his career thus far and see what he can do to improve his consistency so that he can be a staple in the Astros organization for years to come.
Peacock got his first taste of the Majors in 2011 with the Washington Nationals. He had two starts and was great in that small sample size, going with 2-0 with a 0.75. ERA in 12 innings pitched. Peacock spent a majority of the 2011 season between double-A and triple-A going 15-3 with a 2.39 ERA in 23 starts. During that season, Peacock was ranked 42nd among minor league prospects by Baseball America and also represented the Nationals in the All Star Futures Game.
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Before the 2012 season, Brad Peacock was shipped off to Oakland as part of the trade that sent Gio Gonzalez to the Nationals. Peacock spent the entire 2012 season at triple-A Sacremento and struggled mightily. The Pacific Coast League is known as a “hitter-friendly” league, but Peacock’s numbers were inexcusable for any top prospect in any league. Peacock finished 2012 with a 12-9 record and a 6.01 ERA. He had a WHIP of over one and a half and walked 4.4 hitters per nine innings. Couple the walks with the 16 dingers that Peacock gave up, and you can see how he ended up with a 4.26 FIP (Fielder Independent Pitching on ERA Scale).
Brad Peacock does feature a good 4-seam fastball that sits in the mid-90s, and also has an excellent knuckle-curve. He throws a sinker and a change up, but neither is a quality pitch at this point. I believe that having a good sinker is a huge advantage for power pitchers, and luckily for Peacock, he has Roger Clemens at his disposal (who was one of the better sinker-throwing, power pitchers of all time). Peacock is an extreme fly ball pitcher that loves to work his 4-seamer up in the zone, and that may not translate too well in Minute Maid Park without the ability to mix it up with the sinking fastball.
So far this spring Peacock has had two outings. He was roughed up in his first outing, throwing one inning while allowing 2 hits, 2 walks and 3 earned runs and striking out 2 against the Mets on February 24th. His second outing came against the Yankees on the 28th and was much better; going 2 innings, walking none and allowing just one hit.
Brad Peacock has the potential to help the Astros rotation for years to come if he can ever find some consistency. Earlier this spring Jeff Luhnow said that the Astros plan to develop him as a starter, so if Peacock does not crack the rotation out of Spring Training, we should expect to see him start the year off at triple-A Oklahoma City rather than seeing him as a long-relief guy in the bullpen. At age 25, Peacock may be running out of time to develop as a starter, so he will need to make great strides in 2013 for Luhnow and company to continue to believe in him.