The Boston Red Sox agreed yesterday to a trade that will allow them to acquire former Chicago White Sox starting pitcher Jake Peavy in a three-team deal. To execute the trade, the Red Sox did have to send infielder Jose Iglesias to the Detroit Tigers, but the Red Sox felt they could easily part with Iglesias, who has been benefiting from an unsustainable batting average on balls in play all season, to land a pitcher they think will help them going forward.
With the acquisition of Peavy, the Red Sox have seemingly bolstered their starting pitching staff and provided even more insurance for themselves in case starting pitcher Clay Buchholz continues to be unable to pitch during injury. While relying on rookie Brandon Workman to start some games did not backfire on the Red Sox, and actually benefited the team as Workman pitched well in his last two starts, having Peavy, a name known around the majors, on the staff is sure to be a lot more comforting to the team.
Peavy might not be bringing any more than name recognition to the team, however. His 4.28 ERA and 4.09 fielding-independent ERA this season are higher than the earned run statistics for the average American League starting pitcher, which should cause some concern among the Red Sox organization.
In accumulating that ERA, Peavy has been unfortunate to watch 13.1 percent of the fly balls he gives up become home runs and he has struggled to strand a significant number of base runners he has allowed. His left on base percentage of 70.4 percent is worse than the average American League starting pitcher, who has stranded 72.6 percent of base runners this season.
While his 3.68 expected fielding-independent ERA suggests the number of home runs he gives up should decrease and his ERA subsequently improve, there is no guarantee that the rate at which he surrenders home runs will drop by enough to really help the Red Sox win games.
Peavy might not necessarily improve over the course of the season, but if Buchholz comes back healthy and in form, at worst, Peavy will be the third or fourth best starting pitcher in the Red Sox rotation. He will probably not drastically improve the rotation, but he definitely won’t make it any worse, either.
Of course, there is always the chance that Peavy blows away every batter he faces for the rest of the season and makes me look foolish for hedging my bets with him. Until that happens, though, the trade will continue to look unimpressive.