When Dallas Keuchel went on the 10-Day disabled list, A.J. Hinch had plenty of options. The most obvious was Chris Devenski, the former starter who has dominated his role in the bullpen all season. He also had Francis Martes and David Paulino, two of the Astros top three prospects waiting in the wings in AAA.
But Hinch chose Brad Peacock, an eleven-year journeyman with only 6 starts in his last two seasons.
Sending Peacock to the rubber is a definite risk. He's spent the majority of his career as a below-average minor leaguer, amassing a 4.14 ERA in 163 minor league starts. He was particularly mediocre last season, going 5-6 with a 4.23 ERA in AAA Fresno.
But Peacock has had somewhat of an epiphany this year, the current owner of a 2-0 record and 1.10 ERA. Opponents are hitting only .127 against him.
Many will say 12 relief appearances is far from enough to truly evaluate the capability of a pitcher. But Hinch remains confident in his hefty right hander, which he made clear on Sunday.
"I'll let hm go as long as he can...part of his role on this team is to be prepared for something like this. Whatever he can give us, he's going to give us."
Peacock also sounded confident.
"I feel good, my stuff has been pretty good lately... Going to try to find the strike zone early, pound the zone, work the fastball and go from there."
Peacock relies on his fastball command, dotting corners of the zone to keep hitters off balance. He uses his slider as an out pitch, and mixes an occasional curve to keep hitters guessing.
Peacock will face a top-heavy Detroit Tiger lineup, with each of the bottom four batters hitting below .230. The Tigers are benefitting from the return of J.D. Martinez, the former Astro who has 6 HR and 12 RBI in 9 games since returning from the disabled list. Miguel Cabrera remains a force in the lineup, and Alex Avila is off to a career start hitting .380 in 26 games.
If Peacock can control his pitches and avoid giving up the long ball, he could find this start might not be his last.
First pitch 7:10 CT, Minute Maid Park.