Will Jake Peavy's Return Provide a Spark for the Struggling White Sox?

Ryan WoodenContributor IIMay 11, 2011

CHICAGO - JUNE 25: Starting pitcher Jake Peavy #44 of the Chicago White Sox delivers the ball against the Chicago Cubs at U.S. Cellular Field on June 25, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The White Sox defeated the Cubs 6-0. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

It's been a rocky road for Jake Peavy since winning the NL Cy Young Award in 2007 with the San Diego Padres.

The 29-year-old from Mobile, AL has pitched just 382.1 innings in the past three injury-plagued seasons. Since being traded to the White Sox at the deadline in 2009, Peavy has pitched a mere 127 innings for the South Siders.

White Sox GM Kenny Williams understood the risk in acquiring Peavy. After all, he gave up three current big-leaguers to get him. However, the chance to put together one of the best starting rotations in baseball was a risk worth taking.

Unfortunately for the Sox, things haven’t gone according to plan.

Peavy was hurt when he got to Chicago in 2009, but showed promise in three late-season starts with the Sox already eliminated from playoff contention. In 2010, a healthy Peavy got off to an extremely rough start, posting a 0-2 record with a 7.85 ERA through five starts in April.

Peavy endured another rough month in May, but early in June when the White Sox began their unprecedented run, Peavy began heating up. He went 3-2 with a 1.75 ERA through June and then during a July 6 start, he felt a pop in the second inning.

He was forced to leave the game, and it wasn’t long before the Sox heard the verdict. It wasn’t good news.

Peavy tore the tendon that connects the lat muscle to the shoulder blade, an injury that some thought would keep him out for over a year. But Peavy made incredible progress this offseason and is slated to make his first start for the struggling White Sox this evening in Anaheim against the Angels.

However, the question remains: Can Jake Peavy provide a spark for the destitute White Sox?

It’s difficult to say how Peavy will be able to bounce back from such a catastrophic injury, but there is no doubting his abilities when he is healthy. A healthy Peavy is a very nice addition to an already solid staff, but the answer to the original question is still a no.

I’m not saying that the White Sox are destined to be cellar dwellers for the remainder of 2011, but if the White Sox are going to get back into contention it won’t be the addition of a starting pitcher that aids them. The starting rotation simply hasn’t been the problem and Peavy’s replacement, Phil Humber, has put up numbers that even the pre-2008 Jake Peavy would be envious of (2.97 ERA and a .94 WHIP).

The problem for the White Sox has been a struggling lineup. Earlier in the year, it was the Sox bats that powered the South Siders to a 7-4 start, but since then the White Sox have struggled offensively. Those struggles at the plate have been the main reason the Sox have gone an abysmal 7-19 since April 13, and now the ChiSox trail the Cleveland Indians by 9.5 games.

Don’t get me wrong, if Jake Peavy can stay healthy and give us the kind of production he is capable of, then he will be a welcomed addition to the Chicago White Sox.

However, unless he decides he can be a .280 hitter as an everyday player, I don’t see how he fixes what ails the Sox.

Maybe Peavy’s return will provide a moral boost for White Sox hitters and they can find a way to hit themselves out of their early season doldrums, but the reality of the situation is that it’s likely a non-factor.

The Sox are a better team with Jake Peavy in the rotation, but the burden of the Sox's uphill battle back into contention rests squarely on the shoulders of the Adam Dunns, Alex Rioses and Gordon Beckhams of the world.