With Cain Struggling, Jake Peavy’s Presence is Necessary


When the San Francsico Giants got two starting pitchers back into the rotation at the beginning of July, they were welcome additions. The rotation had been badly struggling, with Tim Hudson pitching every bit like a 40-year-old on his last leg, and Tim Lincecum reverting back to old, bad habits. Placing Matt Cain and Jake Peavy into the mix was supposed to absolve the Giants of those issues.

Presumably, Cain was going to be the third starter, behind Madison Bumgarner and Chris Heston. He was supposed to be a veteran presence who could calm troubled waters, as he did before his injuries. Peavy should have been a wild card, a pitcher who should have been a toss up every time he took the mound. Maybe he’d be good, maybe he wouldn’t.

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Instead, their roles have been reversed. Peavy has become a solid third pitcher behind Bumgarner and now Mike Leake, while Cain is a mystery that no one on the Giants’ staff can seem to solve. Sometimes he looks great, inspiring confidence that he can be like his old self, but more often than not, he looks like a liability in the rotation.

With Cain struggling badly, Peavy’s presence in the Giants’ rotation becomes even more necessary. The Giants need Peavy to continue to go out and give them a legitimate chance to win every time he toes the rubber. In 10 starts since returning from the hip and back injury that kept him on the shelf, Peavy has been nothing short of stellar.

Early in the season, that wasn’t the case. Peavy made two starts in the season’s inaugural month, pitching through pain both times, and he was rocked. Peavy struggled through 7.2 innings in those two games, and gave up 12 hits and eight runs, looking exactly like a hobbled pitcher. His injuries landed him on the disabled list, but since returning, a healthy Peavy has given Giants’ fans confidence.

In 10 starts and 60.2 innings, Peavy has sported a very impressive 3.26 ERA and 1.187 WHIP. He’s gone at least six innings eight times in 10 games, which is something that Giants’ starters have really struggled with this year. He’s had a big hand, along with staff ace Bumgarner, in giving the bullpen a bit more rest than some of the other starters who have wrestled just to get through five innings.

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Wednesday’s game was a great showing for Peavy. He was able to lead the Giants to victory over the Cubs, a mountain the Giants hadn’t been able to climb yet this season in five previous matchups. Peavy pitched through mistakes by his defense (including one committed partially by him, allowing a pop-up to drop in the infield), and get through 6.1 innings, holding the Cubs’ vaunted offense to just a pair of runs.

The Giants’ training room is filling up faster than a bar on one dollar beer night. As their lineup continues to push through without a number of key pieces, Giants’ starting pitching has to throw well enough to keep them in the game. The Giants likely won’t be able to score a lot of runs with lineups that look like prime Spring Training split-squad outputs, so the pitching needs to pick up the slack.

Right now, the Giants can’t rely on Cain to keep them in games. They likely won’t be able to rely on Hudson or Lincecum to do the same, either. Bumgarner and Leake have to continue to pitch like studs, and hopefully, Heston will be an effective starter again upon his impeding recall with the expanding of roster on the first day of September.

Peavy’s presence in the middle of the rotation will be just as necessary. He doesn’t need to be 2007 Peavy, when he won the National League Cy Young Award, but if he can continue to do what he’s doing right now, that should be enough.

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