Without question, it appears that this year is Part II of the “Year of the Pitcher.” Starting last season, no hitters, shutouts, and quality starts came with much more frequency than in the 2 decades prior. Last year, the totals for homers, runs, and hits were lower than they had been since the early 1990s. Well this year appears to be following suit with last year’s trend. Numbers in all of those major categories are down 7% from last year at this time. Are hitters getting worse? Is pitching getting better? Are the lack of steroids playing a part? Who knows. We just know that hitting is down, and pitching appears to be on the upswing.
Now I could talk about guys like Jered Weaver, Trevor Cahill, Roy Halladay, Josh Johnson, and Justin Verlander All five are having remarkable seasons and are setting a blistering pace for other pitchers to compete with. But I am not going to. Today, I am going to talk about two feel good stories. Two guys that appear to be “back from the dead.”
They appear to reviving their careers. Both pitchers I am going to talk about have been in the Major Leagues for around a decade. They each have had some very strong campaigns. Also, both have made multiple All Star teams and have been at, or near the top of the sport in their craft, pitching. So without further ado, welcome back to Josh Beckett and Jake Peavy.
Josh Beckett was once considered the best postseason pitcher in the game. He was clutch and seemed to have ice in his veins as the stakes got higher. In his career, Beckett has appeared in 2 All Star Games, won 2 World Series, and been awarded a World Series MVP Award. Sadly, Beckett dealt with some major injuries last year and struggled to tie his career low in wins, with 6. Many thought that after last year, the Josh Beckett of old was forever gone. Well many were wrong. Josh appears to be better than ever this year, sporting a record of 3 and 1, and an American League leading ERA of 1.75. I think it is safe to say that Beckett still has some gas left in the tank. It appears his career has been revived.
Jake Peavy is another guy who has accomplished many outstanding feats during the course of his career. He has won a Cy Young Award, made 3 All Star Teams, and he took home the pitching form of the Triple Crown during his magical 2007 campaign. Sadly though, Peavy, dealt with some major injuries last year. And in the games that he did play in pre-injury, he was mediocre at best, sporting a career low ERA of 4.63. He also was not nearly his old self in 2009 either. Chicago fans were clamoring for a trade and felt like they had picked up the wrong guy. Why would you dole out the big bucks and 4 players for a guy who could not cut the mustard anymore? Well not so fast. Peavy has made 2 starts in his return to the Majors thus far this year. Start #1 did not go perfectly, though it was not terrible. But Start #2 was nothing short of stellar for the former Cy Young Award Winner. Could the Peavy of old provide the boost that Chicago needs to get back to competing for the AL Central Title? Who knows. But I do know one thing. If Peavy can continue to do what he did last night against the #1 ranked offense in the American League (Cleveland), he could be on the way to reviving his career.
I know many want the long ball to become more frequent as it was in the 90s and early 2000s. Most people love to watch high scoring games. Runs put butts in the seats. But I will admit, I am enjoying the small ball nature of today’s game and the elevated level of pitching across the board. Remember the age-old saying, “Pitching wins games.” And in Year 2 of the Pitcher, the saying holds true.
Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.