San Francisco Giants

Jake Peavy wins in final start of season, sets sights on 2016

SAN FRANCISCO -- Giants right-hander Jake Peavy isn’t one of those players who refuses to watch the postseason when his team doesn’t make it.

"That always motivates me," Peavy said. "After the World Series is over, you’re really ready to go at that point in time."

The Giants will be heading home before the postseason begins this year, and for the first time in three seasons, Peavy won’t be pitching deep into October. In 2013, he pitched for the Boston Red Sox team that won the World Series. Last year, of course, he won a ring with the Giants.

Peavy certainly isn’t thrilled to be watching the playoffs from home this time around -- but it will allow him a full offseason to let his body recover after an injury-condensed 2015. And it’s with definite optimism that the right-hander looks toward 2016, when he can bring the results of a winter spent recuperating and building up strength to bear on what he hopes will be a full season in the Giants rotation.

"I promise you I’m expecting to show up and throw 200 innings," Peavy said.

Peavy threw five Saturday against the Colorado Rockies while earning the win in his last start of 2015, and finishes with 110 2/3 on the season. Overall, Peavy finished with an 8-6 record and 3.58 ERA -- including two awful starts in April before he was shut down for two months with hip and lower back issues.

Peavy returned from the DL in July to make 17 more starts, and looked at times more like the pitcher who was so reliable down the stretch for the Giants in 2014. The right-hander closed the season by going 5-0 with a 2.59 ERA over his final eight starts, a foundation on which to build for next spring.

"I was excited the way that the season played out once I was able to get on the field and be healthy on the field," Peavy said after the Giants’ 3-2 win Saturday. "It’s obviously discouraging, we all came here to play in what we’re going to watch next week -- these playoffs. But we’ll use it as fuel. I’m excited to catch my breath here the next few weeks and have a full winter of preparation."

This spring, Peavy said he came to camp about five pounds lighter than normal trying to take some strain off of a balky ankle. He then got sick toward the end of spring training and lost more weight, which sapped his strength on the mound. Peavy said he functions best around 200 pounds and will report next spring "as big and strong as I can be."

He also learned that it’s imperative to stay on top of the hip issues that flared up on him this year, making sure he does not let them slip out of alignment. That’s one reason you see Peavy’s distinctive finish to his delivery, where he kicks his right foot out in front of him on his follow-through.

"Since I’ve come back it has been a non-issue," Peavy said, "which has been exciting for me."

Manager Bruce Bochy said before the game the Giants will definitely be in the market for starting pitching this offseason, with several of their current starters headed for free agency and Tim Hudson retiring. Having Peavy at full strength, over the course of a full season, would be a benefit.

"He’s got a lot of pitching left in this game," Bochy said.

* Santiago Casilla, appropriately, wore a look of relief after Saturday’s game. The Giants closer came into the day needing to finish one of the final two games to vest a $6.5 million option for next season. With the Giants leading by one in the ninth, Bochy called on Casilla to record the final two outs, which Casilla did to guarantee the option.

Bochy after the game said the Giants were going to pick up Casilla’s option regardless. The right-hander has a 4-2 record and 2.79 ERA in 67 games for the Giants this season, along with 38 saves, and has pitched as both a closer and set-up man during his career in San Francisco.

"I can tell you he was coming back," Bochy said. "He had a nice year for us … That’s a nice luxury, to have two or three guys that have experience here closing a game. But (he is) a guy that’s emerged as I think one of the better closers in the game. That’s the kind of year he’s had, and the numbers show it."

Casilla said he adjusted to some mid-season struggles by concentrating on commanding his fastball and also mixing in a changeup against right-handers. He admitted the option was on his mind last week, when he needed only a couple more games finished to vest it, and he thanked Bochy for putting him into the past two games.

"I feel better now," Casilla said with a laugh.

* Marlon Byrd will not see his 2016 option vest -- he started Saturday and had four plate appearances, but is still seven away from the 550 needed with one game remaining. Still, he showed why the Giants might have interest in keeping him around, hitting a home run in the first inning to straightaway center field for his 23rd of the year.

Brandon Crawford also homered in the fourth inning, bringing his season total to 21 -- two more than Buster Posey for the lead among season-long Giants. Barring a monster day from Posey in Sunday’s finale, it looks like Crawford has a good shot at becoming the first Giants shortstop to lead the game in homers since 1905, when Bill Dahlen walloped seven.

* Madison Bumgarner got likely his final appearance of the season Saturday, and it came in the batter’s box. Bumgarner pinch-hit for Peavy in the fifth inning and looped a single to left field, bringing his average to .247 on the season. He should win his second Silver Slugger Award, having collected two doubles, five homers and nine RBIs.

Bochy used Bumgarner as a pinch-hitter several times in the second half -- most notably against Reds flamethrower Aroldis Chapman, with Bumgarner working a walk -- but he said after Saturday’s game it’s not something he wants to continue doing in 2016. His use of Bumgarner this year reflected the lack of depth on the Giants’ injury-depleted bench.

"I don’t see it happening a lot next year," Bochy said. "I hope it doesn’t because that means we’re going through the same thing we went through this year."

Still, Bochy admitted that Saturday’s move worked out well. The Rockies had a left-hander on the mound, and Bochy only had one right-handed hitting position player available on the bench -- catcher Jackson Williams, whom he wanted to save for later in the game.

"It’s fun to have a pitcher that allows you to make a move like this," Bochy said. "He’s a threat up there, and you know he’s going to give you some good swings."

* Peavy’s day began strangely, as he interrupted his warm-ups to take part in the pregame retirement ceremony the Giants held for Tim Hudson on the field. Peavy delivered a few farewell remarks, then hustled back to the bullpen to finish his warm-up throws.

"When I was asked to do it there was no way I wasn’t going to do my best," Peavy said. "We wanted to say goodbye in the proper way to our good friend."

The ceremony included a video featuring Hudson’s current and former teammates and coaches wishing the right-hander well, and remarks from Bochy as the Giants stood on the infield and entire Rockies dugout watched from the railing, applauding. Hudson took the microphone at the end and thanked his team, coaches, the Giants’ training staff and his family -- and lastly the Giants fans, whom he called the best in baseball.

"I appreciate and love you all," Hudson said. "Let’s win a ballgame."

* The Giants will have another ceremony recognizing Jeremy Affeldt before Sunday’s season finale. It’s an early 12:05 p.m. start. Matt Cain will start for the Giants against Rockies right-hander Christian Bergman.