A 41st round draft pick in 2006, it has been a slow climb through the Nationals system for Brad Peacock. The journey culminated in 2011 when he made three appearances (two starts) in the Major Leagues going 2-0 with a 0.75 ERA and 1.08 WHIP. Once an afterthought, we now have to consider him a potential option in the Nationals’ rotation.
Peacock split time in Double & Triple-A last season, posting a 2.39 ERA, 0.99 WHIP and 177 K in 146.2 innings. It was the first time since 2007 (39.1 innings) that he posted an ERA under 4.00. So, the question is if his success last season was simply an aberration or was it that he finally realized his full potential.
Of course, the numbers do not always live up to a pitchers upside. Things actually started to turn for Peacock in 2010 when he saw his strikeout rate improve significantly with 148 Ks over 142.0 innings of work. Throw in solid control (47 walks) and you could tell that things were starting to click despite his 4.50 ERA.
Prior to the 2011 season, despite his previous struggles, Baseball America ranked him as the team’s tenth best prospect. They talked about his fastball, which had increased in velocity and topping out at 96 mph. We saw it during his brief cup of coffee in the Majors in 2011, averaging 92.7 mph on his fastball.
Here’s how they described his arsenal:
“Peacock’s knuckle-curve is a plus offering with sharp downer action that complements his straight fastball well. He also has developed a decent changeup to use against lefties, though it still lags behind his other two offerings.”
There has been talk in the past that his 6’1”, 175 lbs. frame may be better suited for the bullpen. That could eventually become a possibility, but at this point he’s shown more than enough potential for the Nationals to stick with him and see if he can develop into a viable starting option.
It’s hard to draw many conclusions off of 12.0 innings of work, but Peacock’s time in Washington does offer some numbers that need to be monitored. Most obvious was that he posted a 60.5% fly ball rate, something that needs to be closely monitored. While home runs were not an issue overall in 2011, he has had problems in the past. In 2010 he allowed 16 HR over 142.0 innings. In 2009 it was 14 HR in 147.2 innings.
It’s not a major red flag, at least not yet, but it needs to be monitored closely.
A lot of his potential 2012 value will come from the moves and decisions the Nationals make in the offseason. He threw 158.2 innings in ’11, so there likely won’t be a major issue with an innings limit. Seeing him throw 190 wouldn’t be a surprise.
The question is if there will be a rotation spot for him on Opening Day. We all know that Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann are locks. There have been rumors that they will be in the market for a veteran ace and Chien-Ming Wang could also be back in the mix.
In other words, he’s not a certainty to open the year with the big club. However, it’s pretty obvious that he will get a shot before long (if he doesn’t open as the fifth starter an injury or inability should open up a spot). With the strikeout potential he’s shown the past two years, he is well worth the flier in deeper formats and someone to monitor in all leagues.
Make sure to check out all of our preliminary 2012 rankings: