Time for Fantasy owners to reclaim Jake Peavy?

Jake Peavy could soon be moving back to the National League. (USATSI)
Jake Peavy could soon be moving back to the National League. (USATSI)

With the Red Sox and Cardinals engaged in trade discussions involving pitcher Jake Peavy, aggressive Fantasy owners must be considering whether the former Cy Young award winner is worth a pre-emptive add.

The thinking is simple: moving from the AL East to the NL Central has improved the numbers of several pitchers in the past, thanks in part to facing less-dangerous lineups. Could this be the elixir to turn Peavy into a useful Fantasy pitcher?

In addition to the league switch, Peavy has another potential positive wild card if he joins St. Louis: a killer pitching coach in Derek Lilliquist. The job Dave Duncan did with the Cardinals' pitching staff for 15 years has (or should) become legend, with the team picking up various reclamation projects and turning them into not only serviceable options at the back of the rotation, but into a strength of the team. Lilliquist has continued Duncan's tradition, ranking fourth in starter ERA in 2012, second in 2013 and currently second again in 2014.

So would Peavy continue the tradition of Chris Carpenter, Kyle Lohse, Jake Westbrook et. al., or continue to struggle if traded?

I'd pessimistic that he'd be able to turn things around in St. Louis. His walk rate has spiked in 2014, with Peavy issuing out more than a full walk per nine innings above his rate of last year, which was itself a three-year high. His strikeout rate has dropped; so has his fastball velocity, a fastball that he's relied more upon despite the decline in effectiveness. He's also had trouble keeping the ball in the park despite posting a three-year low in flyball rate.

If you look at his home and away splits, you'll see he's actually been worse away from Fenway Park. He's been moderately successful against teams in the National League this season, but considering the small, four-game sample size, it's impossible to draw any rational conclusions from his stats in those games.

If Peavy is available in 12-team leagues or larger and the FA pickings are slim, he's worth adding and keeping on Fantasy benches to see if in fact a trade goes through and how he performs in his first few NL starts. I'm not expecting much of a bump though, so I'm staying away.

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