Red Sox Steven Wright Back On Track In LA
The Boston Red Sox need Steven Wright to pitch the way he did last night, even if not for a complete game, if they want to succeed in the tight A.L. race.
Wright’s last two starts in July were nothing of the same quality as last night’s game against the Los Angeles Dodgers. He gave up eight earned runs in 4.2 innings against the Detroit Tigers, a team nipping at their heels in the American League wild card race. He also gave up 10 hits for three earned runs in just five innings against the Los Angeles Angels.
However, watching Wright play the other L.A. ball club was like a glorious return to the Wright who was picked for this year’s All-Star Game festivities.
Wright earned his 13th win of the season by throwing a complete-game shutout against the Dodgers. His knuckleball was moving so well, Wright allowed only three hits in nine innings, walking one Dodger while striking out nine. It took 119 pitches, 78 of them for strikes, and he induced six groundballs to eight flyouts. The Dodgers only had four runners left on base, and they never looked like they were threatening to score at any point in the game.
Wright improved his ERA to 3.01 in his 22nd start of the season. Presently, he has a .227 opposing batting average as a result.
It was a much-needed win for Wright and the Red Sox, as they still sit two games back of the Baltimore Orioles and the Toronto Blue Jays, who are tied for the A.L. East division lead. The sheer domination was nice to see, but it only counts as one win to keep pace with the leaders.
Still, it’s not a bad spot for Wright, who was expected to be nothing more than a fifth starter in the pitching rotation. Last season, he went 5-4 with a 4.09 ERA and would bleed runs, like most knuckleball pitchers do. His sole purpose was to keep the Red Sox in some games, eat up some innings, and hopefully not blow their chances at the postseason. Instead, Wright has the lowest ERA on a team sporting 14-game winner Rick Porcello, the supposed ace David Price, and fellow All-Star Drew Pomeranz. Only Wright and Porcello have double-digit wins so far this season.
Even then, Wright would have more wins if he would have received more run support. In his five losses, he only allowed three runs twice and he gave up even less in the other three starts. In his three no-decisions, two were bad starts but Wright allowed only an unearned run in nine innings against the Chicago White Sox. If some better defense helped him out, that should easily have been a win for Wright.
If that would have happened, Wright would have been tied for the team lead in wins with a man who is making $82.5 million for the next four years. Currently, the Red Sox are getting a bargain from Wright by paying him only $515 thousand, and he’s only eligible for arbitration in 2018 and free agency in 2021.
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With so many of the other starters bleeding runs and keeping games close, the Red Sox cannot afford Wright to pitch badly. Except for a few starts, Wright hasn’t looked that way. If anything, he’s looked more like the ace of the rotation than anyone else, who are being paid a great deal more than he is. Motivation for the team is definitely the postseason; however, Wright could be making a ton of cash in arbitration in two years if he stays on track through the second half of this season. A World Series ring and a dominant 2017 wouldn’t hurt, either.
One thing is for sure: if Wright pitches more like a week ago, instead of last night, the Red Sox should start planning some late autumn golf parties instead of any parades through Boston.