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Peavy leaves zone to spur to recent success

Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Jake Peavy lost a no-hitter in the eighth but won for the third time in four starts.

Jake Peavy took a no-hitter into the eighth inning on Saturday night as he continues a turnaround that might see him become a big part of the Giants' stretch run to the playoffs. Peavy is 3-1 with a 1.26 ERA over his past four starts after getting one win in his first 23 starts of the season.

How he won Saturday

Peavy recorded 18 swings-and-misses Saturday against the Brewers, the most he has had in a start since Aug. 13, 2011. Eight of those misses came with two strikes, his most in a start since May 26, 2012. Peavy also had eight strikeouts against right-handed batters, his most in a start since April 17, 2008.

Peavy was not afraid to try to make hitters chase, and he threw 72 pitches out of the strike zone. He got 26 swings on those pitches, and hitters were 0-for-11 with six strikeouts on at-bats ending with a pitch out of the zone.

Fastball improvement or luck?

Peavy’s fastball in his past four starts has been more effective in getting outs than early in the season, but what’s causing that is hard to say. Hitters hit .321 against Peavy’s fastball when they hit ground balls in his first 23 starts, more than 60 points higher than the league average on grounders off fastballs. Peavy is not inducing grounders with his fastball in his past four starts, as hitters have put four grounders into play off Peavy’s fastball and are 0-for-4.

Out of the zone

Peavy has gotten batters to chase pitches more in the past four starts. Hitters are chasing Peavy’s pitches out of the zone on nearly 35 percent of their at-bats, compared with 29 percent in the first 23 starts. More importantly for Peavy, when batters do chase, his miss percentage on these pitches is 41 percent, up from 34 percent in his first 23 starts.

Balls in play becoming outs

Hitters are hitting .260 on balls in play against Peavy over the past four starts, which is nearly 40 points lower than the number they put up in his first 23 starts. Peavy is not only seeing more batted balls turn into outs, but he’s also seeing fewer balls put into play. Hitters put 40 percent of Peavy’s balls in play in the first 23 starts, but that number is down to 34 percent over his past four.