ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Jake Peavy won the Cy Young Award in 2007. He has been an All-Star three times and has a Gold Glove. Before he's done playing baseball, Peavy will have earned well north of $100 million.
He has a reputation for being a good teammate and for being somebody charities in San Diego, Chicago, and Boston could count on.
It's a resume to be proud of. But there's something missing that can be fixed tonight in Game 4 of the American League Division Series.
Peavy has never had success in the postseason. The Padres got there in 2005 and 2006, but Peavy pitched poorly in two starts against the Cardinals. Over 9.2 innings, Peavy allowed 13 earned runs on 19 hits, three of them home runs. He walked four and struck out five.
"I tell you what I've learned, experience means way more than I ever thought it did," Peavy said on Monday. "You say you need experience. You say you want experience. Until you have experience and understand what experience is, I don't think you can talk about it and appreciate it until you are able to see it firsthand for yourself."
"I wish I could go back and know what I know now, be a little bit more under control in between the ears and on the mental side of things than I was back then. I'm healthier than I was in either one of those starts, that's a crazy thing. I haven't said a whole lot at this time in my career, but some unfortunate situations led to me being out there a little bit less than what I would have preferred."
If Peavy can pitch well tonight and move the Red Sox into the ALCS, those two starts against the Cardinals won't be such a jagged edge for him.
This game is the reason the Red Sox traded for Peavy on July 30, giving up a player they really liked in Jose Iglesias. Ben Cherington and John Farrell wanted a strong rotation for the postseason and having a pitcher like Peavy as the fourth starter is ideal.
Peavy has not pitched since Sept. 25 in Colorado, outside of a few innings in last week's intrasquad game. A long layoff cost John Lackey some command in Game 2 but he survived it. Now Peavy will have to adjust.
"Just done everything I could possibly do to keep that feel. If you watched Lackey the other day, I think you saw the layoff can affect your feel and command a little bit," Peavy said. "But at the end of the day it will be no excuse. I'll get out there and figure out a way to get it done just as John did."
Peavy pitches with an outward intensity, shouting at himself on the mound and putting his all into every pitch. Managing that emotion will be important, too.
In two starts against the Rays this season, Peavy allowed five earned runs over 12.2 innings.
Jeremy Hellickson starts for Tampa Bay. It will be his second postseason start, the last coming in 2011. Hellickson is 2-6 with a 7.02 ERA since Aug. 6 and hasn't pitched since Sept. 27. But he had a 3.44 ERA in three games against the Red Sox this season.