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Can Jake Peavy Bounce Back?

Jake Peavy has an ADP of 45 and is the sixth-highest rated starting pitcher by this ranking. On first glance, that seems a tad optimistic for a guy who saw his win total drop by nine and his ERA shoot up 31 points last season. But Peavy’s numbers in 2008 were hurt by a mid-season bout with elbow trouble and the Padres’ anemic offense.

Peavy missed a month last year due to a sore elbow, but he got back on the field without surgery and in his first start back pitched six scoreless innings. Peavy took his regular turn the rest of the season, missing only a September start so that he could be with his wife for the birth of their son.

In 14 of his 27 starts last year, the Padres scored three runs or less for Peavy, which helps explain how he was a .500 pitcher with a 2.85 ERA.

But there are some troubling signs from Peavy last year. His SO% fell and his BB% rose. His 2.81 K/BB ratio was the lowest of his career since his second season back in 2003. Peavy was also fortunate in his LOB%. His strand rate of 82.2 percent was the second-lowest mark in the majors. Peavy’s FIP was 3.60, significantly higher than his ERA, although he has beaten his FIP in five of the past six seasons.

All pitchers are risky and Peavy is no different than most. But he seemingly had no lingering issues with his elbow and he does get to pitch half of his games in Petco. Last year in home games, Peavy had a 1.74 ERA.

There have been rumors that Peavy is on the trading block. First he seemed destined for Atlanta and then he was linked with Chicago and the Cubs. If a trade does go through, Peavy would probably suffer in ERA and WHIP but would also be the beneficiary of more offensive support, which could lead to more wins.

Wherever he winds up, Peavy should continue to be one of the top pitchers in baseball. If nothing else, he should give fantasy players more strikeouts once he gets back to the 200-IP level he posted the three previous seasons. One of the top 10 fantasy pitchers available, Peavy is a reasonable person to target for those who like to grab at least one starting pitcher in the first four rounds.