Chicago White Sox: Jake Peavy Desperately Needs Healthy, Productive Season

Jon FromiSenior Analyst IFebruary 10, 2012

Jake Peavy might be damaged goods, but can he still help the Chicago White Sox?
Jake Peavy might be damaged goods, but can he still help the Chicago White Sox?David Banks/Getty Images

Chicago White Sox pitcher Jake Peavy is considered to be a competitor on the mound. The trouble is, he hasn't been in a position to compete over the last two seasons.

After all, in order to compete, one has to show up.

Peavy's host of injuries hasn't allowed that to happen much since the White Sox traded for him in the summer of 2009. Arriving on your new club while still injured is never a good omen. For the 30-year-old right-hander, the disabled list has been an all-too-familiar place in his tenure on the South Side.

Be it the ankle injury that sidelined him through the heart of the 2009 stretch run, the torn shoulder muscle that put him out of action for nearly a year the following July or the nagging issues of last year, Peavy has made just 39 starts in two-plus seasons.

By way of comparison, Clayton Richard, who was one of three players traded for Peavy, has thrown 63 games with the Padres despite undergoing his own shoulder surgery last July.

Peavy is 17-13 in those starts, but has been a shadow of the player who claimed the 2007 National League Cy Young Award for San Diego.

Back then, Peavy was a young power pitcher with a 19-6 record. Now, Peavy is on the other side of 30 and, by his own admission, is damaged goods.

"I’m as 100 percent as I can be. I don’t know if I’m 100 percent as to what I was four years ago. I know I’m as 100 percent as 100 percent is going to get after what I had done. I guess that’s the best way to say it."

That's Peavy updating the Chicago Tribune's Dave Van Dyck on his status for spring training.

Peavy is set to earn $17 million for whatever he can contribute to the 2012 season. I have no doubt that he is going to earn as much of that salary as he possibly can. He seems to really want to be out there, with the ball in his hand, every fifth day.

It's in his nature. Plus, he's pitching for a contract.

The White Sox will undoubtedly buy out Peavy's contract for $4 million rather than pony up for the $22 million price option on 2013. How much Peavy can earn will depend on his performance on the mound.

It benefits Peavy financially to make 30 starts this season. It would also benefit Chicago in the win column.

It all comes down to those starts and how well he can bounce back from them. Peavy has shown that he can be effective even with an erosion of his stuff. Four relief innings against the Nationals back in June and eight innings of shutout ball in Minnesota August 7th attest to that.

Peavy blanked the Twins in just over six innings in his last appearance September 6th, right before the club shut him down for the season. Like his 3-0 record when he finally threw for the White Sox in 2009, that seems to signal good things for the upcoming campaign.

White Sox fans know better. The proof will come one start at a time, every fifth day.