Steven Wright earning Boston Red Sox sixth starter role


We already know the five members that will make up the Boston Red Sox starting rotation to open the season, but what happens when one of them inevitably falls to injury over the course of the year? Steven Wright has them covered.

The knuckleballer has had an impressive spring, going 2-0 with a 1.80 ERA in 10 innings. In Sunday’s start he limited the Philadelphia Phillies to a pair of hits over four shutout innings to pick up the win, which earned him high marks from Brandon Nickel in yesterday’s game recap.

"“He continues to get outs,” manager John Farrell told reporters in Fort Myers. “I thought he threw a number of really quality knuckleballs today, and it’s not hard to envision him pitching quality innings for us at some point this season.”"

Wright is expected to begin the season in Triple-A Pawtucket, but will be ready to step in if called upon. Boston’s loaded farm system includes several young pitching prospects projected to have high ceilings, but none of them are considered to be major league ready at this point. As eager as fans are to see the likes of Henry Owens, Eduardo Rodriguez and Brian Johnson on the mound in Boston, they each could use a bit more seasoning. The 30-year old Wright has already had a taste of the big leagues, making him the logical first choice to fill the Red Sox “sixth starter” role.

"“I feel like if I’m going to be on this team, that’s going to be my role,” Wright said of being a fill-in spot starter. “And I love that role. I love the fact that no matter what day it is, I have a chance to pitch. That’s what I like.”"

The Red Sox like hearing that, and know they can count on Wright when necessary. Last season he posted a 2.57 ERA in 21 innings for Boston, including one start. He struck out 22 batters while only walking 4.

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The strikeout-walk ratio is one of the few concerns Wright has had regarding his performance this spring. He has struck out 6 so far, but also walked 4 in his 10 innings of work. Those lapses in control are reminiscent of the struggles he encountered in his first major league stint in 2013, when he walked 9 batters in 13.1 innings. Occasional control issues aren’t exactly unexpected from a pitcher that relies on the unpredictable knuckleball, but Wright has proven capable of harnessing the pitch before and can do so again.

Boston is expected to open the season with Clay Buchholz on the mound for Opening Day, followed by Rick Porcello, Wade Miley, Justin Masterson and Joe Kelly, in some order. That leaves no room for Wright at the moment, but if the injury bug were to bite any member of this staff, the knuckleballer should expect to get a call.

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