Peacock's playoff feat not done in 95 years

October 20th, 2019

HOUSTON -- Astros right-hander started Saturday’s Game 6 of the American League Championship Series against the Yankees, allowing one run on two hits in 1 2/3 innings while striking out two. His line wasn't remarkable, but the veteran's outing was historic: Peacock made his first postseason appearance on Friday with a scoreless eighth inning in the Astros' 4-1 loss at Yankee Stadium, and with his Saturday start, he became just the fourth pitcher in MLB history to finish one postseason game and start the next on zero days' rest and the first since Firpo Marberry for the Washington Senators in the 1924 World Series.

“This guy has closed a playoff game,” manager AJ Hinch said. “He has closed a World Series game. He’s pitched a lot of games for us. His demeanor is great, his stuff is really good. I think he feels really good.”

Saturday's outing was the 85th start of Peacock's career, including the postseason, and his seven first-inning pitches were tied for the fewest in the first inning in any of those starts. He also did it on May 2 of this year against the Twins (and once in 2017).

Peacock also became the seventh pitcher in postseason history to start a game on zero days' rest, marking the first time it's happened in a round other than the World Series. The teams for the six previous pitchers to do it went 3-3 in those games.

Peacock had two lengthy stays on the injured list during the regular season because of right shoulder pain, and he was not on Houston's roster for the AL Division Series against Tampa Bay.

“He’s as even-keeled as anybody we have,” Hinch said. “We’ve missed him a lot throughout the last month, just in how he can be a weapon. I’m demonstrating that by how we’re giving him the ball at the beginning of the game. This moment will not be too big for him. I don’t expect him to be very emotional.”

Before Friday, Peacock’s most recent appearance was on Sept. 29, in the final game of the regular season. He had three appearances in August and another three in September, as the shoulder issue sidelined him twice. Peacock made 15 starts and eight relief appearances in 2019, going 7-6 with a 4.12 ERA.

However, Hinch likes the matchup of the right-hander with the sweeping breaking stuff against the right-handed top of the Yankees' lineup: DJ LeMahieu, Aaron Judge and Gleyber Torres.

“It’s a bullpen day, and it starts with LeMahieu and Judge and Torres,” Hinch said. “I didn’t know the [Yankees'] lineup when I decided Peacock, but I was pretty sure they were going to stay with the top of their lineup.”

Hinch said that using Peacock on Friday “was testing him out a little bit, because he hadn’t pitched in a couple of weeks. I didn’t want it to be his first outing to be in a start like this.

“Brad was very efficient last night. He’s really good at staying calm in what’s probably going to be one of the most intense games we’ve had this season up to date.”

Peacock made seven appearances for the Astros during the 2017 playoffs. He pitched 3 2/3 shutout innings to get a save in Game 3, and two more scoreless frames in relief in Game 7.

“I don’t even want to call him an opener, because I think because that’s misconstruing it,” Hinch said. “There’s no telling what order I go. He’s going to pitch the first inning or second or third. I don’t know how long he’s going to pitch. The opener concept is the notion that the starter is coming in behind him. It might happen that way. It might not. We’ll see where he’s at, pitch-count-wise. Let’s start with getting LeMahieu out. We’ve not done a great job of that.”

The Astros arrived at Minute Maid Park at 4 a.m. CT on Saturday. However, the club left potential Game 7 starter Gerrit Cole back in New York to get a more normal night of sleep. He returned to Houston later on Saturday.

“If anybody’s sleeping nowadays, I’ll be shocked,” Hinch said.