KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Astros pitcher Brad Peacock knew he needed a strong outing to improve his chances of breaking with the team in two weeks, and the right-hander delivered Sunday by throwing four innings in relief and giving up two hits and one run while striking out four against Washington.
For Peacock, who excelled as a starter with the Astros toward the end of last season, the key to his effectiveness Sunday was his changeup, which he has been working on vigorously this spring with pitching coach Brent Strom.
"The changeup was great today, and that's the pitch I've been working on the most and I was able to throw it for strikes and balls when I wanted," he said. "I was able to locate it well."
Last year, Peacock had three stints on the Major League roster and went 4-3 with a 3.67 ERA in his final 12 appearances of the season (nine starts), setting him up to battle for a rotation spot this spring. He credited an improved slider with helping him succeed a year ago, but he focused on the change Sunday.
"Last year, I had three decent pitches and I just needed a changeup," he said. "Me and Stromy have been working every day trying to throw it like my fastball and make it look like my fastball."
The game marked only the second Grapefruit League action of the season for Peacock, who had thrown in two Minor League games since allowing four hits and five earned runs March 1 against the Tigers in Lakeland, Fla.
"It's been a while since I've been in a real game, and it felt good to get out there and get the adrenaline going again," he said. "I needed a good one, definitely, and I'm glad I could get it."
Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.