Jake Peavy of the Chicago White Sox is looking like a Cy Young candidate again. In his second season back from unprecedented shoulder surgery, Peavy goes into Detroit Friday hoping to build on his best stretch in a White Sox uniform.
Peavy takes the hill against the Tigers with a 3-1 record on the 2012 season. He is coming back from a hard luck 1-0 loss to Boston in his last start. However, Peavy tossed a complete game four-hitter, which followed a three-hit shutout of Oakland in his previous start.
Peavy is carrying a 1.67 ERA for the season. The White Sox have won four of his five starts. He's struck out 33 hitters and issued just five walks. With stats like these, it isn't difficult to believe that Peavy was named the American League Pitcher of the Month of April.
The numbers don't lie, but it's harder to believe that Peavy is putting up those numbers. How's he doing it?
Here are a few theories.
It's hard to slap a recovery time to an injury that had never been corrected with surgery. That said, it's safe to say that as we approach the two-year mark of the experimental surgery, his arm has a bit more life to it with another season of rehab behind it.
The procedure that attached his latissimus dorsi muscle to the rear of Peavy's right shoulder has been tabbed a success. Dr. Anthony Romero, the surgeon who performed the repair job, pronounced Peavy's injury to be healed:
It's been repaired. He's not had any problems with it. There may be other issues in any decision for him to eventually stop throwing. Clearly, that looks like it's going to be some time from now the way he started out the season. But it's not going to be related to his latissimus tendon. That's healed. The muscle looks great and he's doing very well.
Peavy hit town nursing an ankle injury and has been a fixture at the trainer's table since donning the pinstripes of the south side.
His arm has bounced back after each start. For what may be the first time in Peavy's White Sox tenure, he seems to be free of nagging injuries. The confidence stemming from good health is evident.
Peavy was a pure power pitcher in San Diego, where he won the 2007 Cy Young Award for the National League. Five years later, he just isn't the same player.
Peavy seems to have accepted that fact and made the adjustment to retiring batters without the arm he once had.
Despite not being in control of his stuff in his first start against Texas, Peavy battled for six innings, leaving the game with the score tied 3-3. Alex Rios would later win the game with a homer in the top of the ninth.
Peavy is discovering the wonders of changing speeds and keeping hitters off balance. Despite having lost a few MPH off his fastball, he has compensated well so far.
The uncertainty of his health has surely eaten at Peavy over the last three seasons. Coming into spring training at or near 100 percent was just the thing for his mental approach.
As Peavy told mlb.com's Scott Merkin:
Coming through the injuries and the years I've had, there's nobody anymore grateful for the opportunity to play baseball and grateful to be healthy. Making your start every fifth day and feeling the way I feel, it's something I took for granted for eight years of a career. I can promise you I don't take a fifth day for granted and I feel very blessed.
Just in case Kenny Williams decides not to exercise the $19 million option the White Sox have on Peavy, he'll have to win himself a new contract.
Another Cy Young in the trophy case would command top dollar. Who knows? Maybe Williams would keep Peavy in Chicago after getting a taste of what he thought he was getting back in 2009.
Peavy's earning his paycheck so far in 2012. That makes everyone feel good.