Nationals Arm Race

"… the reason you win or lose is darn near always the same – pitching.” — Earl Weaver

Thoughts on Peacock’s MLB debut

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Peacock goes from 41st round flier to MLB pitcher. Photo via

Those of us who meticulously follow the Nats farmhands and pitching prospects were given multiple treats in the wake of Stephen Strasburg‘s triumphant return on 9/6 (box/gamer).  We also got to see the MLB debut of a very intriguing name in the future of this rotation, Brad Peacock.

(We also got to finally see Atahualpa Severino, but not until after a rain delay blew out my 3-hour DVR recording.  Apparently he blew away the one hitter he faced with 96mph heat.  I wonder why we slogged along with Doug Slaten for so long if we had a 96mph fireballer available in the minors all season?)

Peacock has been visible to those of us who havn’t traveled to either Harrisburg or Syracuse lately, appearing in the Futures game during the 2011 all-star break.  On 9/6 Peacock came into the game in relief despite being a starter all year, and inherited 2 runners from lefty Doug Slaten (who I thought was closer to being released than ever appearing in a game for this team again).  He features (according to a pre-game interview) a 4-seamer (95mph normally), a 2-seamer, a knuckle-curve and a change.

Peacock “only” throws 95 (click here for Pitch F/X data on the night) but its a sneaky fast 95, getting up on hitters by virtue of some slight tweaks he made to his mechanics this year to do a better job of hiding the ball before hitting his release point.  He did a good job keeping his fastball low and definitely had a couple of borderline pitches called balls (at one point showing a bit of exasperation on the mound …).  He definitely depends on the four-seamer predominantly; 15 of his 23 pitches were a 4-seam fastball.  He says he throws a 2-seamer but we didn’t see it.  We only saw a few change-ups as well (six per Pitch f/x), but one of them was a 3-2 change-up to Ethier with the bases loaded that took some guts to throw.  His 4-seamer definitely has action and movement, but I’m beginning to see why scouting pundits (Keith Law) keep saying that Peacock seems destined for the bullpen.  I’d like to have seen the 2-seamer, or more of the curve-balls (he only threw three on the night, but all 3 were for strikes).

His motion and mechanics are “effort-ful.”  He definitely puts a lot into each pitch and he doesn’t have the easy arm action of other pitchers in our arsenal.  Not a total red-flag, but I wonder if he’s a shoulder injury waiting to happen (ala Cole Kimball).

He got a grounder from Matt Kemp (his first MLB hitter) on his curve-ball that Desmond could have (should have?) had, then got touched up for a few hits.  On the night; he pitched 1 1/3, gave up 4 hits and was charged with a run.  He allowed both of Slaten’s runners to score.  He most likely would have gone longer had the skies not opened up.  A couple of the guys he faced really hit the ball on the button and he didn’t have a swinging strike all night (not a good sign).

It’d be nice to see how he fares when he gets a longer outing to see if this was just nerves, an umpire squeezing him or something else.  Perhaps he’ll take some starts from here to the end of the season (we’ll definitely need at least two spot starters because of double-headers on the schedule).  Or perhaps the team will go to a 6-man rotation.

Written by Todd Boss

September 8th, 2011 at 11:17 am

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  1. [...] league start against the Mets, in New York (box/gamer).  Though I posted some thoughts on his MLB debut a week ago, it was clearly not the most optimal debut for a rookie starter (brought in with runners on base [...]

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