After the starting rotation was nothing but a disappointment last season, Steven Wright might be the diamond in the rough for the Red Sox in 2016.
It’s like Christmas Eve in New England as Opening Day is less than 24 hours away for the Boston Red Sox. Like every year, all fans think that it is going to be “the year” for their team. Prior to the 2015 season, many Red Sox fans thought that way going into the year. But we later found out that poor pitching, lack of hitting, and overall bad baseball brought the 2015 Boston Red Sox to the basement of the A.L. East.
With left-handed pitcher, Eduardo Rodriguez going down with a knee injury forces him to the disabled list to begin the season, knuckleballer Steven Wright gets the shot he’s been waiting for his whole life, as he was named the 5th starter in the rotation.
Wright, who has made appearances here and there for the Sox for the past 3 seasons, wants to make a strong start in 2016 so that he can potentially stay on the big league roster for good. During the Spring, Wright was one of the few pitchers who stayed consistent in every start he made. In the 26 innings pitched during Spring Training, Wright had an ERA of 2.77, which is pretty impressive coming from a guy who is keeping the breed of knuckleball pitchers alive.
Now Red Sox Nation shouldn’t be nervous with Wright in the rotation. Former knuckleball pitcher, Tim Wakefield, pitched in Boston for 17 seasons and is going down as one of the biggest fan favorites in Red Sox history. Yes, there were times where you wanted him out of Boston because of the outings where the opposing teams would constantly hit moonshots over the Monster, but watching him master the knuckleball throughout the years and giving quality starts at 44 years old was something special to see. Also, having Wakefield mentor Wright during the Spring is always positive to hear.
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Like I said before in my previous article, one of the biggest problems for the Boston Red Sox in 2015 was the inability for their starting pitchers to go deep into games. Watching our starting pitchers get lit up early into outings became a regular game basis. That would then lead to our bullpen, leading them to exhaustion and being worn down due to all of the appearances they made when our starting pitching made early exits.
The signing of David Price, who constantly racks up 200+ innings a season, will help this problem and hopefully give our bullpen some rest. And having Wright recently join the rotation, you may have another guy who can do just that.
With Wright being a knuckleball pitcher, we all know that he won’t have the same wear and tear as any other pitcher. Since he throws the “ole knuckler” it gives him the ability to go late into games and not be as tired the next day.
Do I think that Wright will have outings where his knuckle ball won’t be floating and fluttering past hitters and will be hit out of the stadium? Absolutely. Any pitcher will have those types of starts. It’s just part of baseball. But having pitchers like Price and Joe Kelly throwing the ball in between 95 and 99 MPH will help Wright get batters out because of the difference in speed and travel of the ball.
Steven Wright has always been doubted by scouts in the past just like any other knuckleball pitcher. But seeing success by Toronto Blue Jays knuckleballer and former Cy Young award winner, R.A. Dickey, should motivate Wright in becoming another big weapon for the Sox in 2016.