When the Chicago White Sox acquired Jake Peavy(notes) earlier this year, they expected him to be the final piece to help secure a playoff spot. He’ll finally suit up for a team whose hopes of playing beyond the regular season are faint and dwindling.
Nearly two months after his introductory press conference, Peavy will make his American League debut Saturday night when the White Sox continue their weekend series with the Kansas City Royals.
Peavy was the centerpiece of arguably the biggest trade to be completed before the July 31 deadline, as the White Sox picked up the 2007 NL Cy Young Award winner from San Diego for pitcher Clayton Richard(notes) and three prospects.
The right-hander was 19-6 with a 2.54 ERA and a major league-best 240 strikeouts two years ago, but has since had trouble duplicating those numbers. Last season, Peavy was 10-11 with a 2.85 ERA and 166 strikeouts, and this year is 6-6 with a 3.97 ERA and 92 Ks.
Injuries have been a major reason for the downturn. Peavy hasn’t taken the mound since defeating Arizona on June 8, and was placed on the disabled list five days later with a strained tendon in his right ankle. He also suffered a setback during a rehab start on Aug. 24 after being struck on his pitching elbow, which had sidelined him for nearly a month in 2008.
Manager Ozzie Guillen said he wants Peavy to come out of the game feeling good. Peavy, though, isn’t sure how long he will last.
“I’m not anywhere close to being on top of my game and being where I can throw eight innings and feel like I can uphold my stuff. But you got to start somewhere,” said Peavy, who’s 1-1 with a 5.40 ERA in two career starts against the Royals.
A strong outing could bolster Chicago’s waning hopes of back-to-back postseason appearances for the first time in franchise history. With 14 games remaining, the White Sox (72-76) are in third place and 6 1/2 games behind Central-leading Detroit. Chicago will play six of its final nine games against the slumping Tigers, who have dropped eight of their last 11 heading into Saturday’s action.
The White Sox and Royals (60-87) have split 16 meetings.
Peavy must find a way to stop designated hitter Miguel Olivo(notes), who fueled Kansas City’s 11-0 rout Friday. Olivo homered twice and drove in six to back Luke Hochevar’s(notes) three-hitter for his first career shutout.
“I think someone needs to tell those guys at the beginning of the year that they’re out of it,” said Chicago starting pitcher Mark Buehrle(notes), who took the loss. “It seems like every year that last month they play their best baseball against teams that are going for winning the division.”
Olivo - who spent his first two-plus seasons with Chicago - has four homers and 13 RBIs during a four-game hitting streak, and leads the Royals with 23 homers in 105 games.
Rookie Dusty Hughes(notes) (0-0, 3.38 ERA) will make his first major league start for Kansas City after Kyle Davies(notes) was scratched due to a sore oblique. In four appearances since being recalled from Triple-A Omaha on Sept. 5, the left-hander has surrendered three runs and six hits while striking out nine in eight innings.