One player that I feel is a candidate for a breakout season in 2014 is Brad Peacock. The right-hander had an up-and-down year in 2013 , but a strong finish gives reason for optimism.
Peacock started the year in the Astros starting rotation but ineffectiveness led to a demotion to the bullpen and a trip to AAA Oklahoma City. While working in the minors, Peacock developed a slider that helped to turn his season around. After posting a 1.1 WHIP and a 2.73 ERA in 79 innings with the RedHawks, Peacock was back in Houston’s starting rotation.
Over the last two months of the season, Peacock pitched exceptionally well. Six of his nine starts were quality starts, resulting in four wins. Jason Collette penned an article last month that takes a closer look inside the numbers that Peacock produced after his initial demotion.
"Peacock was able to generate more swings and misses and his rate upon his return from the minors was in the top 15th percentile in the league. Previously, his rate was in the bottom 15th percentile in the league."
Peacock turns 26 in February and it is easy to forget that he had only appeared in three big league games prior to last season. Going into 2012 Peacock was rated as a top 100 prospect. But a bad year in the PCL seemed to make his stock drop pretty drastically. A solid second half in 2013 suggests that Peacock may have figured some things out.
I think Peacock will start the year in the Astros rotation. If he pitches up to his capabilities there’s no reason to assume he can’t nail down the spot full-time. If he can limit the walks, like he did in the second half of 2013, Peacock could be a key factor for the ‘Stros in 2014.
Brad Peacock (Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports)