- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Brad Peacock of the Nationals doesn’t have the hype and expectations of Stephen Strasburg, nor did he get a fancy name for his major league debut like “Strasmas.” In fact, he got thrown into an unexpected situation against a player getting consideration for National League MVP.

The plan was for Peacock — a starter — to work like a starter in relief, by getting a clean inning to work with. Manager Davey Johnson called for that earlier Tuesday — but when the weather forecast later on brought the promise of rain, Plan B made life difficult on Peacock. Instead of starting the sixth after five brilliant innings by Strasburg, Peacock was left to clean up a mess started by lefty reliever Doug Slaten — two on with one out with Matt Kemp at the plate.

With rain on the way, Johnson didn’t want to warm the 23-year-old up and lose him.

“Unfortunately I had to bring him in to face the right-hander, and it happened to be one of the best hitters in the league going for the Triple Crown,” Johnson said. “I was kind of between a rock and a hard spot, and I said, ‘Well, welcome to the big leagues, son.’ “

Peacock doesn’t remember what he was thinking as he jogged in from the bullpen in right field – but he remembered what it was like to see Kemp standing in.

“That’s definitely as tough as they can get,” Peacock said. “Looking down there and seeing him as my first major league batter, the adrenaline was definitely going then.”

Peacock’s first pitch was a sharp fastball that he accidentally put some bite on – and Kemp singled in a run on the second pitch. After walking Juan Rivera to load the bases, Peacock left a flat fastball in the zone for Andre Ethier that turned into a two-run single.

He gave up another hit before inducing an inning-ending double play. His final line after a couple more outs in the seventh was a respectable 1 1/3 innings with one earned run on four hits.

“It was a little nerve-wracking out there for the first hitter, but I calmed down and I made some good pitches and I got some ground balls,” Peacock said. “They just found some holes, and it’s baseball.”

It wasn’t ideal to come in against Kemp and have to pitch from the stretch, but the Eastern League pitcher of the year at Double-A for Harrisburg said he was used to relieving from the Arizona Fall League and wasn’t bothered too badly.

The reviews were glowing from his manager, teammates and even at least one Dodgers player. Johnson even said shortstop Ian Desmond should’ve handled a play that would’ve gotten Peacock out of the jam and credited the young pitcher for not losing his cool.

“He handled adversity, stayed right with him, came back out and threw the ball good the next inning,” Johnson said. “I’m pretty pleased with it.”

With Strasburg illustrating his dominance earlier in the night and Peacock showing just a bit of what he can do, the Nats hope he can be a piece of their future.

“He’s got good stuff; I actually talked to Andre Ethier out at second and he said his fastball was nice,” Desmond said. “He was just a little hyped up; he’s not used to coming out of the ‘pen, not used to pitching after Strasburg in a tight ballgame, in the rain – everything was stacked up against him and I thought he did a pretty good job.”