Astros: Pay attention to Brad Peacock in 2019
The Astros are arguably in need of another starting pitcher for the upcoming season. At the same time, I believe a compelling argument could be made the other way if you’d consider a pitcher already on the roster.
Back on February 4th, 2013, the Astros made the first of two trades involving Jed Lowrie and the Athletics. Yes, there have been two trades between Houston and Oakland involving Lowrie, who recently signed with the Mets this offseason. The first trade between the two clubs back in early 2013 saw the Astros acquire the following players: Chris Carter, Max Stassi, and Brad Peacock. No, this isn’t a trade review, but rather a post hyping about Peacock as we look forward to Spring Training.
To echo the title of this post, we’d be wise to pay close attention to Peacock this year. For one, he could possibly have similar role in the upcoming season like he did back in 2017 when he flourished in a (mostly) starter-and-spot reliever role.
As a starter: 111 2/3 IP, 3.22 ERA, .282 wOBA allowed
As a reliever: 20 1/3 IP, 1.77 ERA, .231 wOBA allowed
For better or worse, the Astros have a few openings in the starting rotation. As you may recall, Charlie Morton recently signed with the Rays earlier this offseason while Dallas Keuchel is likely to sign elsewhere. Also, Lance McCullers Jr. is out for the entirety of the 2019 season following Tommy John surgery this winter. Collin McHugh is projected to be the Astros’ number three starter, which still leaves two open spots. While Houston is high on some of its younger arms, it wouldn’t be wise to count out Peacock until proven otherwise.
One reason behind my optimism is Peacock’s improved strikeout-to-walk ratio. While he did pitch in 67 less innings in 2018 compared to the season before, the right-hander posted his highest strikeout (35.3%) and lowest walk (7.4%) rates for his major league career. Although his ERA did climb to 3.46 as a near-exclusive reliever, the improvement is worth noting.
That said, I’d expect some of the improvement for his strikeout rate lies in his role as a reliever, which allows pitchers to throw harder in shorter spurts. To his credit though, Peacock did pitch in similar spots in each of the past two seasons (2017, 2018). If anything, it does appear that he elevated his pitches slightly in 2018 when compared to 2017. But his success as a starter two seasons ago make me optimistic that he can contribute in a similar role again. If he can retain some, if not all, of that strikeout-to-walk ratio improvement, then I feel better about the Astros’ chances without acquiring another starter.