Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Steven Wright had to make the team as the fifth starter. Yet, he is playing much more like an ace than anything else.
No, this isn’t The Right Time with Bomani Jones on ESPN Radio; this is the Wright Time with Wright making love on the mound grow with the Red Sox fans (metaphorically, of course), dealing out some sweet pitches. Last night’s victory over the New York Yankees was just a part of the scene.
Forget his 3-3 record for a minute, as it has more to do with a lack of run support than anything that he’s doing wrong. Check out this man’s ERA: 1.52, just behind MLB leader Jordan Zimmerman (1.10 ERA), Jake Arrieta (1.13 ERA), and Jose Quintana (1.38 ERA) for the lowest ERA in the majors.
The big difference between these men is that Zimmerman, Arrieta, and Quintana are supposed to be doing that. They are getting paid big money to be doing that. Wright isn’t supposed to be even sniffing around the MLB lead; he’s a knuckleball pitcher who bleeds runs, right? He’s getting paid $515 thousand, at the moment, to do this for one year. The rest of those guys are getting paid a great deal of money to be just a slight bit better than how Wright has been pitching.
Let’s not even go there with the big-name pitchers on the Red Sox staff. David Price is making people question whether the price for him was right or not, last offseason, and while Rick Porcello has been doing great, many Red Sox fans are still feeling the bruises that he left on their hearts, and the final scores, in 2015.
It’s not that hitters can’t hit Wright’s pitches, either. According to BrooksBaseball.net, sluggers are doing very well in the strikezone, smacking the ball at an average between .200 to .385, with one exception being the .139 on the right-middle of the plate. And the slugging percentages match up, showing how hard the hitters are drilling Wright’s offerings, with the left-middle of the plate being destroyed for a percentage of .679.
The issue for the hitters has been where the ball ends up in key situations. Wright and the Red Sox defense have turned numerous doubleplays because of his knuckleball and his four-seam fastball. Opposing lineups are only hitting .172 against him, while Wright is striking out 23 percent of them. According to FanGraphs.com, Wright has a 1.13 groundball-flyball ratio, but even the flyballs become either popouts or long flyball outs. Wright is allowing only five percent of his flyballs to be home runs, the lowest in his career in that category.
Finally, Boston was able to give Wright a four-run lead to work with, last night; however, his record could be easily 6-0 if he would have had the run support. He has only given up two or less runs in each of his starts, reaching between six and nine innings of work. Three of those starts were against division rivals and one was against arguably one of the hottest teams in the majors, the Chicago White Sox.
What more can the Red Sox ask of this guy? He’s making the hitters look foolish, making the fans blush with warm thoughts, and making his agent rub his hands together in delight for dreams of his next payday. Well, as long as he can keep it up.