Peacock has taken advantage of his most recent opportunity with the Houston Astros.
As spring training was starting to wind down, Brad Peacock had no idea what his future had in store. Will he continue to be a Houston Astros player or would he need to move on? Collin McHugh‘s health concerns this Spring opened the door for Peacock, but he had to earn the spot. Earn it he did. Had Peacock not made the opening day roster, he would have been put on waivers as he was out of options.
The Astros wanted to hold onto Peacock because they still had faith in him. They exposed Kevin Chapman and Max Stassi to waivers, with Chapman being claimed by the Braves. Stassi cleared waivers and was removed from the 40-man roster, but his future in Houston is clouded. There are plenty of teams out there desperate for starting pitching help.
If and when the Houston Astros put him on waivers, he will be claimed by another team. With the Astros luck, the Rangers would have claimed him, and he would have helped them instead of us. Peacock was drafted in the 41st round of the 2006 draft by the Nationals out of high school. Following his debut in 2011, he was traded twice. He was traded to the Athletics and then included in the Jed Lowrie trade.
Was he ever suited to be a starting pitcher?
The Astros wanted to use Peacock as a starter, getting as many as 24 starts in 2014. Despite the promise, Peacock was not able to find success in the rotation. He missed most of the 2015 season and spent the majority of 2016 with the Triple-A Grizzlies. He went 5-6 with a 4.23 ERA while striking out 119 in 117 innings. With his injury issues behind him, Peacock was part of the plan again.
At the end of the season, Peacock pitched in ten games with the Astros, starting five of them. In those ten games, he had a 3.69 ERA with 29 strikeouts in 31 2/3 innings. He pitched well with the exception of his last start of the season versus the Angels. Peacock gave up five earned runs in 4 2/3 innings, eliminating the Astros postseason hopes for 2016.
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Peacock is soaring this year
This year, Peacock has 11 strikeouts in 7 2/3 innings out of the bullpen. While his role has changed, he is making the best of the situation. No longer needing to conserve energy to go deep into games, Peacock can throw faster. According to Fangraphs, Peacock threw his fastball on average 91.8 mph last year. This year, he is throwing it 93 mph, reaching 96 mph at times.
However, the increased velocity isn’t the sole reason Peacock is pitching better. For his career, he has thrown his slider about 15% of the time. It was a pitch that he has worked on and finally mastered it last year. His confidence in his slider led to an increased usage at about a 30% rate. Peacock’s movement on his fastball and breaking pitches have been giving hitters fits.
Like Chris Devenski, he can pitch multiple innings when needed. It’s still early in the season, but so far, so good for Peacock. Will Devenski and Peacock be able to maintain this dominance? Probably not, but enjoy the strikeout rates while you can.
***Stats from Fangraphs and Baseball-Reference***