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On Baseball

Why the Red Sox needed Jake Peavy

Jake Peavy will trade in his White Sox uniform for a Red Sox jersey.

Reed Saxon/AP

Jake Peavy will trade in his White Sox uniform for a Red Sox jersey.

When you watch how Brandon Workman threw so well over the last three starts you might ask, “Did the Red Sox need Jake Peavy?”

The answer is yes they do.

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It’s always great to have veteran pitchers down the stretch and into the playoffs. With their acquisition of Peavy from the White Sox Tuesday night, the Red Sox have a rotation of Peavy, Jon Lester, John Lackey, Ryan Dempster, and Felix Doubront. If Clay Buchholz ever makes it back, then they have a decision to make on who gets dropped. Good decision.

And Workman probably could head to Boston’s bullpen and solidify that.

Peavy gives the Red Sox swagger, toughness and is battle-tested when it counts. He’s a former Cy Young Award winner, a competitor, and bulldog and he’ll raise everyone else’s game. Obviously the Red Sox are concerned Buchholz’s injury will be a problem the remainder of the regular season. Buchholz relayed the fact that Dr. James Andrews told him he would make 4 or 5 starts the rest of the way in a perfect scenario, and that wasn’t good enough.

With Tampa Bay’s incredible pitching staff, it became imperative the Red Sox find a way to reduce the Rays’ advantage in that area. The day before, the Rays had pulled off a coup by trading for injured reliever Jesse Crain, who had been a target of the Red Sox. But the Red Sox made up for it with Peavy, who was also being coveted by Diamondbacks general manager Kevin Towers, who had once employed Peavy in San Diego.

Peavy reunites with Red Sox pitching coach Juan Nieves (with whom he worked in Chicago), who has offered comparisons to Buchholz in terms of Peavy’s command of four pitches. When Nieves was coaching with the White Sox he always admired Peavy’s toughness on the mound and his ability to compete even when he didn’t have his best stuff.

Peavy, 32, was 8-4 with a 4.28 ERA in 13 starts. He was on the disabled list for about a month-and-a-half with a rib injury, but he has looked healthy in his last two starts. He won the 2007 National League Cy Young when he took the pitching Triple Crown.

Was this a better choice than Cliff Lee? Probably not, but Lee would have cost the Sox more prospects and about $70 million in salary compared with $20 million for Peavy.

So the Red Sox are at least trying to match up with the Rays in putting together a drop-dead starting rotation. From here on out, they also hope Buchholz can give them the same surge that David Price’s return from the disabled list gave the Rays.

Nick Cafardo can be reached at cafardo@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @nickcafardo.
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