After last night's sad display of offense against Madison Bumgarner, who threw high fastballs to his heart's content, the Giants will have Jake Peavy step to the same mound for tonight's game 2. Peavy isn't terribly complicated; he's a "crafty" righty whose velocity and strikeout rate are declining. The guy is 33, so it's not terribly surprising. Here are his stats for 2014 with both the Red Sox and the Giants.
Peavy throws a four seamer, sinker, changeup, slider, curveball, and cutter, none of which go for much more than 91 or 92. Peavy likes arm-side run for his pitches, almost to the point where his breaking pitches don't really break. His slider barely registers glove side break, and both his curveball and slider have less depth on the vertical 12-6 break than those pitches might normally have, at least according to Brooks Baseballs' neat little scouting report on a player's landing page. Peavy is not designed for big, loopy movements that make batters swing and miss.
Instead, Peavy relies on being wily and/or deceptive and generating weak contact. He's pretty good at limiting line drives and generating popups. He's a fly ball pitcher, so he really wasn't suited for Fenway, but the move to the NL treated him very nicely since his ERA and FIP as a Giant are dramatically better than his 2014 overall line. Peavy remains unpredictable by not showing any tendencies based on the count.
That's eerily consistent. I'm almost freaked out by it. Peavy does have slightly different strategies based on the handedness of the hitter, like most pitchers do, but he will throw any pitch in any count. I think the only tendency that shows up, and it's not a very big tendency, is that against RHH Peavy will exchange some sinkers for sliders when he gets ahead and with two strikes.
Peavy will throw his fastball to both sides of the plate and his sinker low and away (generally; he can go in against RHH). However, something predictable finally happens with the cutter against RHH.
He's going to try to paint the outside corner with the cutter, and his curveball and slider zone profiles are similar. Peavy can throw three different "breaking" pitches with three slightly different movement patterns and three slightly different velocity bands to the same location. Deception. Naturally, Peavy will keep the changeup low and away against LHH.
Peavy is helped out by spacious parks. He's a fly ball, deceptive, contact managing, vocal fiend, but he's quite beatable. His fastball, sinker, and changeup generally get hit hard when contact is made. If the pitch comes inside, it's most likely a fastball or sinker against RHH or a fastball or cutter against LHH. If the pitch is outside, good luck figuring out which one it is.
It will be interesting to see how the Royals' hitters approach Peavy tonight. Bumgarner threw high heat; Peavy doesn't throw much heat and stays lower than Bumgarner. Peavy, however, stays out of the zone slightly more than MLB average. That tendency has only increased with the Giants; that is, as a member of the Giants, Peavy has thrown more pitches outside the zone than before. Somehow, his walk rate has decreased since the trade, but his strikeout rate decreased as well. Maybe he's more confident in the ball staying in the park as a member of the Giants, which is reflected in his decreased usage of his secondary junk in September and October (or it could just be small sample variation).
Peavy has not faced the Royals this year. Let's hope that balls in play fall the Royals' way this time.