HOUSTON -- Brad Peacock was playing catch with a Minor League teammate during the 2016 All-Star break when they began comparing grips on certain pitches."This is how I hold my slider," Jordan Jankowski told him.• Dress for the World Series: Get Astros postseason gearPeacock tried it. He liked how it
HOUSTON -- Brad Peacock was playing catch with a Minor League teammate during the 2016 All-Star break when they began comparing grips on certain pitches.
"This is how I hold my slider," Jordan Jankowski told him.
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Peacock tried it. He liked how it felt. He liked how it moved. He thought it was something he could use.
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"I was so comfortable with it that I threw it in the next game," Peacock said. "It just gave me another weapon."
Peacock was 28 at the time and had spent a decade in the game. To say he was still trying to establish himself would be an understatement. Peacock could not have known it at the time, but that tip was the one he'd spent his entire career looking for.
Finally, Peacock had an impact pitch to complement his 94-mph fastball and prevent hitters from sitting on just that. That day, he was on the road to what he did Friday night in Game 3 of the 2017 World Series when the Astros defeated the Dodgers, 5-3, in front of 43,282 at Minute Maid Park.
Summoned from the bullpen with one out in the sixth inning, Peacock turned in one of the great relief performances in the history of the Fall Classic, a 3 2/3-inning hitless stint that helped Houston take a 2-1 Series lead.
Here's how good he was:
• Peacock's 3 2/3 innings of no-hit relief was the longest hitless World Series relief outing since 1964 (the Cardinals' Ron Taylor, four innings, Game 4).
• It's the longest scoreless World Series relief appearance since Madison Bumgarner went five innings to finish Game 7 of the 2014 Fall Classic.
• Peacock tied Dodgers pitcher Steve Howe (Game 6, 1981) for the second-longest save in a World Series game since it became an official statistic in 1969.
• He tied Yankees pitcher Ken Clay (Game 1, 1978 American League Championship Series) for the longest hitless postseason save.
To the Astros, Peacock is no secret. He may have made the team out of Spring Training only because he was out of Minor League options, but Houston was still trying to understand his career transformation.
Peacock was one of the team's most effective relievers for the first six weeks of the season (1.10 ERA), and when injuries decimated the rotation, he became one of the AL's best starters: 10-2, 3.22 ERA in 21 games.
The Astros led the Dodgers, 5-1, on Friday when Peacock entered with runners on second and third with one out. Los Angeles scored twice that inning on a infield groundout and a wild pitch.
On baseball's biggest stage, Peacock stopped the Dodgers cold after that, allowing only one runner to reach first on a walk and striking out four. His slider has been so good that it has made his 94-mph fastball even better. To finish Game 3, Peacock threw 47 fastballs and six sliders.
But because Peacock has the slider, because the scouting reports are so detailed, his fastball has become better than ever.
"Everyone in the clubhouse has known what he's been capable of," said right-hander Lance McCullers, who started Game 3 and pitched the first 5 1/3 innings for the win. "The whole season, he's been unbelievable."
Stories like this are made for the World Series. If you're looking for bravado, Peacock is not your man. He is so quiet and so unfailingly polite that he relentlessly deflects credit while offering praise to those around him.
"It was pretty obvious he was cruising," Houston manager A.J. Hinch said. "Their swings weren't good. His fastball was playing, his slider was playing. This postseason, I've really enjoyed bringing back the three-inning save. That's cool. And there's no reason to take him out. He was in complete control of every at-bat. So why not leave him in?"
Now about that three-plus-inning save. McCullers went four innings to get one in Game 7 of the ALCS against the Yankees, making the Astros the second team to have two of them in a single postseason.
The Cardinals did it in the 1964 World Series, but the save wasn't even an official statistic at the time.
"[His fastball] was exploding on them," Houston catcher Brian McCann said. "I was seeing funny swings and funny takes. He's got one of the better fastballs in the game. Hitters tell you a lot from their reactions, and we just kept going with it. You look at the season Peacock had, his numbers are right there with the best in the game."
"The season has meant a lot," Peacock said. "I've said it before many times, I didn't think I was going to make the team in Spring Training. And someone got hurt, and I just had a save in the World Series. It's unbelievable, man. I'm never going to forget this, ever. It's been a lot of fun this year. I learned a lot from everybody. And it's just been a lot of fun."
Because Peacock threw 53 pitches, he won't be available for a couple of days, meaning Hinch will need his usual group of relievers, the group that has struggled at times during the postseason.
"I love our bullpen, and our bullpen is going to get outs," Hinch said. "But this is a race to 27 outs with a lead."
With the Astros two victories from a championship, Hinch hopes he has a chance to try.
Richard Justice has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2011. Read his columns and follow him on Twitter @RichardJustice.