Fantasy Baseball 2012: Get Jake Peavy While Chicago White Sox Righty Remains Hot

Tom FirmeAnalyst IIMay 11, 2012

CLEVELAND, OH - MAY 9: Starting pitcher Jake Peavy #44 of the Chicago White Sox pitches during the first inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field on May 9, 2012 during the second game of a doubleheader in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Jason Miller/Getty Images

Jake Peavy was the pitcher entering the season who Chicago White Sox fans didn’t count on seeing make it through a full season. Now, the White Sox are counting on Peavy to do more than just stay healthy. He’s winning games by pitching with guile. Fantasy owners will want to catch the Peavy train before it goes off the track.

Peavy had a hot April. He finished the month 3-1 with 33 strikeouts and a 1.67 ERA across 37.2 innings. Also, he walked just five batters during that time.

Many might have thought that Peavy would have fallen off after that hot start. In each of the last two seasons, Peavy has had one hot month before falling off. In 2010, he had a 1.75 ERA with 29 strikeouts in 36 innings across five starts. Not long after, his season came to an end due to injury.

In 2011, Peavy went 2-0 with a 3.24 ERA in 25 innings across four starts. Then, he went through three months with ERAs above 5.00.

After appearing like just a shell of his old Cy Young self, Peavy has rediscovered his effectiveness again for a span of more than just a month. Peavy has had quality starts in each of his first seven starts. He pitched an outstanding three-hitter on April 23 against the Oakland A’s.

Four days later, he went the distance to pitch a four-hitter while allowing one run against the Boston Red Sox.

Coming into the season, White Sox fans likely didn't see Peavy pitching back-to-back complete games. No one probably imagined he'd be tied for the American League lead in innings pitched (52.1), as he is now with Felix Hernandez.

He has the highest bWAR (2.8) of any American League player, leading Josh Hamilton by 2.4.

Peavy is walking fewer batters than ever before. He's currently allowing a career-low 1.2 walks per nine innings. His strikeout-to-walk ratio is an AL-leading 6.29.

What's remarkable about Peavy is how he's reshaped his game. He's gone from being a heat thrower to being a control pitcher. At that, he hasn't become a control pitcher who doesn't pitch to various spots, but to specific spots.

He's pitching it high in the zone on the catcher's glove side, which is up and in on right-handed batters and up and away on left-handed batters.

That has led to more fly outs and fewer hits allowed. Peavy is currently third in the AL with six hits allowed per nine innings. His ground-ball-to-fly-ball ratio is 2.58.

He has only allowed two home runs thus far, despite the number of fly balls he induces.

All that could change as the season progresses and batters adjust to his new style. Hitters could figure out how to knock home runs and doubles off him, rattling off runs to send his ERA much higher than his current 1.89 mark.

In the meantime, fantasy owners should get what mileage they can out of Peavy. He hasn't been this good since he won the NL Cy Young Award in 2007. He's showing great control while keeping runs off the board.

In the short term, he could help fantasy owners as much as he's helped the White Sox thus far.