Does Jake Peavy succumb to the pressure?
Sometimes “Clutch” is way overrated by those who watch sports. Trust me, it is. “Clutch” of course in the sense that “Baseball Between the Numbers” suggested it to be, by one actually “elevating his performance” when the game is on the line.
But sometimes I think that we dismiss it a little too quick at this point, after the statisticians basically dismissed it altogether once they came out with their studies.
I mean, I definitely lean toward a players performance in Clutch situations pretty much being what their performance is in non-clutch situations. But I think there are probably exceptions here and there.
Is Jake Peavy one of those exceptions?
Peavy’s postseason numbers have been atrocious, period.
Sample size, sample size, sample size. I know all about the “lost art” of actually letting a player play enough so that there is enough of a sample for it to actually matter.
But Peavy has started two games in the postseason, both against the Cardinals. He allowed eight runs in four and a third, and he allowed five runs in five and a third. Peavy combined in those two games, struck out five batters in just an out short of 10 innings, which is definitely below his normal K rate.
Peavy also started a game in 2007, which happened to be a one-game playoff. The Rockies “rocked” him. Six earned in six and a third.
And then in the WBC not too long ago, Peavy sucked again. Allowing six runs in two innings.
Now, I know, that is only a total of four starts. And should the WBC game really be included? Probably not. But it is a game in which I am sure that Peavy felt like he needed to at least give his team a chance to win. And yet again, he failed to do so.
Jake Peavy is a good pitcher, but there is no doubt that his home park of Petco has helped him. A 2.77 ERA at home over his career, and a 3.80 ERA on the road.
And of course, failing to pitch well in four games in particular, three which mattered greatly, and one that, how much it matters is up in the air. All lead to skepticism from this writer about how well he can handle a “Big Game.”
If Jake the Snake gets a chance in his career to pitch in the postseason, lets say with the Yankees. Then, maybe he does well, maybe his good pitching leads analysts to say that it was only a matter of sample size.
But maybe they are wrong. Maybe it would be a matter of Peavy learning how to keep his emotions calm enough to perform well at the biggest stage. Maybe as he ages, the pressure won’t get to him as much, therefore allowing him to “execute” his pitches.
Or maybe Peavy doesn’t feel the pressure. It might actually BE a lack of a strong sampling.
But when a pitcher gets rocked every time he takes the mound in a playoff game, there might just be something more to it, than a lack of “Games Played.”