NEW YORK -- With only one win in 16 starts this season and an 0-4 record and a 5.87 ERA in five June starts, Jake Peavy's place in the Red Sox's starting rotation appeared to be hanging by a thread.
But then manager John Farrell announced on Friday that Peavy would be starting Monday at Fenway Park against the Chicago Cubs, and on Saturday, rookie right-hander Rubby De La Rosa, who had dazzled in his past two starts, was optioned back to Pawtucket.
Farrell had said De La Rosa pitched well enough (2.51 ERA in five starts, including back-to-back starts of seven innings in which he allowed a total of one run) to warrant staying here, and there is a school of thought that he should have displaced Peavy in the rotation.
Peavy doesn't belong to that school. He was defiant in his declaration that he can still be a productive member of the rotation.
"I know I can," he said. "Absolutely. There ain't any doubt in my mind that I'm going to help. I've got plenty of baseball left."
General manager Ben Cherington, who just promoted another rookie, infielder-outfielder Mookie Betts, was asked if it was hard to justify sending down De La Rosa, given how well he has pitched and the fact that wins have been hard to come by.
"It was hard, but I still think it was the right thing to do," Cherington said. "Just because it was hard doesn't mean it's not the right thing to do.
"We bought as much time as we could, in part because of how well he pitched. We wanted to make sure the rest of the guys were OK. We knew we had to get back to 13 position players sooner than later. He was the guy. He'll be back at some point, and pitch in this league for a long time."
De La Rosa, who hasn't pitched since last Saturday in Oakland, is scheduled to pitch Tuesday for Pawtucket.
"It wasn't an easy conversation," Farrell said of breaking the news to De La Rosa, "but to Rubby's credit, he looks at himself as a pitcher who needs to pitch, whether it was here or in Pawtucket. He did everything in his power to impact the decision, and the additional days in the major leagues are a reflection of [how we were] trying to find a fit for him. It was a difficult decision, but that means we have quality guys to choose from."
Peavy has endured difficult stretches before and bounced back. He also noted that the past two Cy Young Award winners in the American League, Justin Verlander (2012) and David Price (2013), have had their issues this season, too.
Verlander was winless in five June starts, going 0-3 with a 6.82 ERA. Price has reeled off five straight starts with 10 strikeouts or more, but he also has yielded an AL-leading 17 home runs, one more than Peavy.
De La Rosa is scheduled to pitch Tuesday for Pawtucket. With the Red Sox having an off-day Thursday, he would be on track to take Peavy's next turn on Sunday, should the Sox elect to make a move then. It would require an injury to do so. Once a player is optioned back to the minors, he must remain there for a minimum of 10 days before he can be recalled, except in the case of an injury.
Nine of Peavy's 16 starts have been quality starts (6 innings or more, 3 earned runs or fewer), but only two of the past nine have fit that definition. Manager John Farrell pointed out, correctly, that a pitcher often has limited control over his won-loss record, and the Red Sox have given Peavy an average of 3.19 runs in run support, according to baseball-reference.com.
Peavy has pitched much better at home (0-2, 3.91 ERA in 8 starts) than he has on the road (1-4, 6.00 ERA in 8 starts).
Asked if his track record had earned him the right to stay in the rotation, Peavy said:
"That ain't for me to decide. It is what it is. I don't know. What we're about is trying to win right now. They've got to do what's best to win right now. I don't know what anybody else is saying. We'll see. It's not for me to decide."
Asked if he still has Farrell's confidence, Peavy said: "I don't have a comment there. I would like to think so."