Chicago White Sox: What Does a Healthy Jake Peavy Mean To This Team?

Chris MurphyAnalyst IMarch 7, 2011

CLEVELAND - APRIL 17:  CLEVELAND, OH- APRIL 17: Jake Peavy #44 of the Chicago White Sox pitches against the Cleveland Indians during the game on April 17, 2010 at Progressive Field in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

Ridiculous question, right?

Clearly, he means a lot.

But Jake Peavy's health goes far beyond just the starting rotation. Everything surrounding Peavy will alter decisions for the entire White Sox pitching staff and could have a long-lasting effect on a young pitcher's career.

There are so many scenarios and decisions to be made based around the timetable on Peavy.

Peavy was expected to miss at least a month, coming off in injury eight months ago in which he ripped a muscle (latissimus dorsi) in his right shoulder, which happens to be the biggest muscle in a person's back.

No pitcher has returned from such an injury, considering no elite pitcher has been known to have a full lat tear.

So, what should the White Sox do?

Do they organize spot starts from Tony Pena until Peavy comes back?

Do they make Chris Sale a starter, moving every pitcher in the bullpen up a spot?

Do they keep Sale as a starter when Peavy returns and go with a six-man rotation or move him back to the bullpen?

Do they want Sale as a closer or as a starter?

Should they admit that they've made mistakes? Should they remind you that they've done this before? Oh, wait, that's LeBron.

With Mark Buehrle, John Danks, Gavin Floyd and Edwin Jackson, the team isn’t asking Peavy to be the entire staff, but the White Sox do have a lot of hope invested in the soon-to-be 22-year-old Sale.

The fact that Peavy’s return could alter Sale’s easing into the big leagues is the bigger picture rather than wins and losses, considering the White Sox still have a contender without Peavy.

But Peavy may be answering all these questions for the White Sox.

Peavy pitched two hitless and shutout innings March 4, hitting 92 miles per hour three times. Twenty-six pitches, 16 strikes, mostly fastballs with a few curveballs and sliders, equaled one confident manager.

More importantly was the fact Peavy felt soreness in all the normal areas the next day and manager Ozzie Guillen told the Chicago Tribune he expects Peavy to be the fifth starter to begin the season, with his first start scheduled for April 6 in Kansas City.

Basically, Peavy is making the decision easy for the White Sox: Peavy in the starting rotation and Chris Sale as the closer.

A decision between Matt Thornton and Sale for the closer spot is far easier than the aforementioned list of questions.

But first things first: How about pitching three spring training innings versus the San Francisco Giants Wednesday? That's the goal.

It will be baby steps for Peavy, but how long before he walks could completely change the White Sox season.