BOSTON -- Upon his arrival here, Jake Peavy was very up-front about how he has evolved as a pitcher. He made no pretense of having the same stuff he had when he won the National League Cy Young Award in 2007, when his fastball averaged a tick under 94 miles an hour and he could routinely dial up to 97, 98 miles an hour.
Then he presented Exhibit A Saturday night in his first start with the Red Sox, underscored by a secondary message that means the most to the Sox: Even with diminished velocity, Peavy can still be extremely effective.
Peavy averaged 90 miles an hour with his fastball, topping out at 92. But the pitch was a useful weapon Saturday night, especially against left-handed batters. According to Inside Edge, Peavy threw 24 fastballs to left-handed hitters, 20 for strikes, including 9 for 9 on first-pitch strikes. His best average velocity actually occurred mid-start, when he averaged 92 miles an hour from pitches 46 to 60, of the 99 he threw in the game.
His mix of pitches, which includes a slider, two-seamer, cutter, curveball and changeup, resulted in left-handed batters going 0 for 11 Saturday night.
The four hits he gave up were all against right-handed hitters, three on his fastball.
But overall, he had an impressive 13 swings and misses, 7 on fastballs, and Peavy threw at least one strike in his first two pitches to every single Arizona batter he faced.
According to Fangraphs.com, Peavy threw his four-seam fastball 62.4 percent of the time in 2007, his Cy Young year. That percentage is down to 17.2 percent this year. The biggest difference is the addition of a two-seamer, which he now throws 36.7 percent of the time, and increased use of a cutter (20.9 percent).
“Not just focusing on the seven plus innings last night, we’ve added a very dependable starter that has had a history of a lot of success,’’ manager John Farrell said Sunday. “I think all the other intangibles -- setting aside what his track record speaks to -- the personality, the fiber of the person, fits in well here. Fits in well with what Boston expects. And I think he relishes this environment.
“We’ve seen it across the field. The fact that he’s throwing well in his first start and the way he responds or acts on the mound, you like it even better when it’s in your own uniform.”