Jake Peavy missed the second half of last season following shoulder surgery and spent the first five weeks of this year on the disabled list as part of his recovery, but since rejoining the White Sox’s rotation on May 11 he’s 2-0 with a 3.24 ERA in four starts.
Even more impressive than the nice-looking 3.24 ERA is that Peavy has totaled 16 strikeouts in 25 innings while walking a grand total of one hitter (Ian Kinsler of the Rangers, on May 24).
Peavy’s current strikeout rate would be a career-low by a wide margin and his velocity is down somewhat, as he’s averaged 91.1 miles per hour with his fastball compared to 92-93 mph during his peak with the Padres.
On the other hand he remains far from a soft-tosser, racking up eight strikeouts in his shutout of the Indians on May 18, and the fact that his control has been so good after going 10 months between starts because of major shoulder surgery is remarkable.
Moving from the NL to the AL and from the majors’ most extreme pitcher-friendly ballpark to a home that boosts power means Peavy was never a good bet to replicate his outstanding raw numbers from San Diego even before the injury, but through 24 starts in Chicago he has a 3.97 ERA and 127/41 K/BB ratio and the White Sox have to be very encouraged by how he’s looked post-surgery.
In 2016, Red Sox starter Rick Porcello narrowly and controversially eked ahead of then-Tigers starter Justin Verlander in Cy Young Award balloting, winning on points 137 to 132. Verlander was not included at all in the top-five of two ballots, both coincidentally belonging to writers from the Tampa Bay chapter, MLB.com’s Bill Chastain and Fred Goodall of the Associated Press. Verlander had more first-place votes than Porcello, but being left out of the top-five on two ballots was the difference maker.
In the aftermath, Verlander’s then-fiancée Kate Upton fired off some angry tweets, as did Justin’s brother Ben.
Verlander was again in the running for the 2018 AL Cy Young Award. He again finished in second place, this time behind Blake Snell of the Rays. Snell had 17 first-place votes and 169 total points to Verlander’s 13 and 154. There weren’t any ballots that made a big difference like in 2016, but there were two odd ballots from the Tampa Bay chapter again.
If a chapter doesn’t have enough eligible voters, a voter from another chapter is chosen to represent that city. This year, Bill Madden of the New York Daily News was a replacement voter along with Mark Didtler, a freelancer for the Associated Press. Both writers voted for Snell in first place, reasonably. But neither writer put Verlander second, less reasonably, putting Corey Kluber there instead. Madden actually had Verlander fourth behind Athletics reliever Blake Treinen. Didtler had Treinen in fifth place. Two other writers had Verlander in third place: George A. King III of the New York Post and Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune. The other 26 had Verlander in first or second place.
Voting Kluber ahead of Verlander doesn’t make any sense, especially we finally live in a world where a pitcher’s win-loss record isn’t valued highly. Kluber had 20 wins to Verlander’s 16 and pitched one more inning. In every other area, Verlander was better. ERA? Verlander led 2.52 to 2.89. Strikeouts? Verlander led 290 to 222. Strikeout rate? Verlander led 34.8% to 26.4%. Opponent batting average? Verlander led .198 to .222. FIP and xFIP? Verlander led both 2.78 and 3.03 to 3.12 and 3.08, respectively. And while Treinen had an excellent year, Verlander pitched 134 more innings, which is significant.
Upton had another tweet for the occasion: