The first thing I notice when watching Jake Peavy pitch is, boy, this is some meaningful shit. Every pitch is a max-effort, every hung slider is a theatric event, every injury is a lesson in patience. He once led the league in strikeouts, wins, and ERA all in the same season, he now leads simply in scowls and glove-muffled curse words. Peavy is less relevant and more vulnerable than at any point in his career, bringing him to the crossroads of "overpaid, past-his-prime, injury-prone hot shot" and "quality veteran competitor." The encouraging thing is that he can still sometimes pitch, and he has, without a doubt, the highest ceiling of anyone in the rotation. The downside is he’s inconsistent and rarely present. And, oh yeah, he once turned down joining the Sox. So he has that going for him.
To put it mildly, Peavy chucks the living piss out of the baseball. It’s ferocious. He springs off the rubber, points his glove skyward, violently snaps his wrist and elbow, then finishes with a little hop as his arm is whipped into recoil. I love this unkempt, "get after it" style of pitching, but the concerning thing is that it appears his arm is doing anywhere between 98-106% of the work. I’m no expert on pitching mechanics but the way he hums it seems to scream INJURY.
Rather than letting his legs provide the power, Jake’s arm goes surging forward like a false starting lineman, and then the rest of his body decides it better come with. This puts excessive amount of stress on the arm and [dramatic pause] scapulothoracic stabilizers! Why? FORCE DISSIPATION. That’s right. Force Dissipation. It’s terribly boring stuff but it is, I’m guessing, what caused Peavy’s latissimus dorsi muscle to ultimately give up - an injury seen most commonly in wind surfers, whatever that means. Again, I like his full throttle, adrenaline-rich mechanics, but it is certainly high risk/high reward.
Arm surging forward, forces building.
The crazy thing is Jake Peavy has slowly dialed back his mechanics over the years, going from "defiantly chaotic" to "quietly chaotic." His list of injuries is very much a hodgepodge, including a broken rib, elbow pain, strained ankle tendon, groin strain, and, of course, the detached lat muscle. Furthermore, his eagerness to return from these injuries has been questionable, to say the least. It’s been sort of admirable but mostly stupid. There is a fine line between being tough and being unaware. Peavy, I would say, is trending towards unaware.
Speaking of awareness, does Peavy realize he gets really pissed off out there? It’s like the ghost of Joe Pesci’s past gets all up inside him and toys with his emotions. You know what I’m talking about: the glove-punching, dirt-kicking, obscenity-laced tantrums. I won’t challenge his caring, but does he really need to instill such untamed thespianism into his caring? It’s a twisted intensity, where the moment appears to get the best of him. I can’t remember another White Sox player who has carried the extremes of caring-too-much as poorly as Peavy.
There is no filter, no editing, no adult safe-search is on. Peavy does not care. It is as if each bad pitch is the singular event keeping him from winning another Cy Young. What inside him stirs up such unadulterated unpleasantries? Whatever it is, it’s annoying. Because when he gets angry, I get angry. Then I go and make everyone around me angry. Can’t I just call him a dumbass when he acts like a dumbass? What do I owe to the guy who was too good for us the first time?
My veins are pulsing after writing that paragraph. Here’s a video of the good Jake Peavy to calm things.
The old Cy Young-winning, $52M-deserving Jake Peavy has been replaced with a 90 mph fastball and a worn down everything. (Kenny Williams got his guy!) The thing is, the Sox need him. I appreciate his candor, his competitiveness, his full-fledged attempts at throwing the baseball faster than the speed of sound. But there's too much effort in his meaningfulness, too much posturing in his aggression. And, in the end, can we count on him to be there, mind and body? Regardless of how this season plays out for Peavy, one thing I do know: it will be so motherfucking intense.