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Brad Peacock is Still a Legend

Though he has flown under the radar, Brad Peacock has continued to be dependable and dominant at times for the Houston Astros

Houston Astros v Texas Rangers Photo by Rick Yeatts/Getty Images

If you followed last year when some us were at Astros Insider you may have noticed that about half of our 2017 content was Brad Peacock related. There was good reason for that, as Peacock’s sudden rise was as unexpected as they come, and he found himself as the ace of a beaten up starting rotation for a significant portion of the regular season.

This year, his move to the bullpen has dulled the spotlight that was on him last year. Peacock has also become well established in kind of a utility bullpen role, so his name has not come up in points of contention like the ongoing ‘closer’ debate, all of which has led to a relatively low key year for the Peacock.

But make no mistake - Brad Peacock is just as legendary as last season. Most are already well aware this, but I felt like it was due time we gave our golden boy some well-deserved recognition.

Peacock’s stuff has played well moving back into the bullpen - his average fastball velocity is up a tick and a half (92.9 - 94.3) from last season, and in turn he’s topped the lofty career high strikeout rate he set last season (10.98 - 12.0 K/9). From a more basic statistical standpoint, Peacock is off to the best start of his career. The righty has a career best 2.67 ERA and 1.074 WHIP. He seems to have taken to the bullpen role and run with it this year.

But even better is his improvement locating pitches. His walk-rate (2.33 BB/9) is a career best by a wide margin.

Peacock relies on 5 pitches. Slider (40.9%), Sinker (31.2%), Four-Seamer (22.2%), Curve (4.7%), Changeup (1.1%). Below is how he has used his various pitches and how they have fared this year vs last.

Brad Peacock Pitch Repertoire 2017 vs 2018

Pitch Pitches Usage wRC+ Zone% Swing% Contact% SwStr%
Pitch Pitches Usage wRC+ Zone% Swing% Contact% SwStr%
Fourseam 2017 592 26.40% 98 58.50% 36.80% 81.70% 6.80%
Fourseam 2018 103 22.20% 166 61.20% 56.30% 81.00% 10.70%
Sinker 2017 557 24.90% 92 49.40% 40.20% 88.40% 4.70%
Sinker 2018 145 31.20% 32 55.90% 40.00% 86.20% 5.50%
Slider 2017 840 37.50% 58 44.20% 50.70% 59.20% 20.70%
Slider 2018 190 40.90% 124 33.70% 40.00% 59.20% 16.30%
Curveball 2017 152 6.80% 151 25.00% 35.50% 64.80% 12.50%
Curveball 2018 22 4.70% 53 18.20% 36.40% 75.00% 9.10%
Changeup 2017 98 4.40% 78 44.90% 43.90% 81.40% 8.20%
Changeup 2018 5 1.10% - 20.00% 20.00% 100.00% 0.00%

Peacock’s slider was one of the nastiest pitches in baseball last season, but this year his lively sinking fastball has emerged as his most effective pitch, and not because it’s garnered a high amount of swing and misses. The nastiness of the pitch is demonstrated below - Peacock is actually pitching the ball in the zone more this year with a lower swing-rate because the late break of the pitch is doing such a good job of fooling batters.

It’s also led to the improvement in his walk numbers, since the sinking fastball is a pitch he throws in the strike zone over half the time. Having said that, digging in to his chart (below) a little more Peacock likes to try to get the ball to the inner half based upon which side of the plate the hitter stands. The lower inning total has also allowed Peacock to throw his sinker with more gusto, as the pitch is up a tick from last year - 91.7 to 92.8.

So far this year, Peacock has given up very few hard-hit balls. Only six total barrels to be exact, five of those coming against lefties. He has been dominating right-handed hitters all year. In the 15.2 innings thrown against right-handed hitters, Peacock owns a 0.57 ERA and is holding batters to a .172 batting average.

Peacock having success out of the bullpen is not a huge surprise to those who have followed him and the Houston Astros closely. Last year strictly as a reliever, Peacock held a 1.77 ERA and a minuscule .143 BAA. In his 21 starts last year, Peacock held a 3.22 ERA and a .217 BAA. His numbers are a starter were great, but its easy to see why the Astros love him out of the pen.

In 2017, Peacock’s versatility was a huge key to the Astros success and made him one of the team’s more valuable players, but he is most valuable as a reliever and is having great success in that role. He is tearing apart righties this year and has throughout his entire career. Peacock is a huge asset to this team and always puts his best stuff out there.