Red Sox: Three up, three down from May
Up: Steven Wright
Steven Wright was away from baseball for a long time. A knee injury and a suspension kept him out for over a year. Because of that, and probably because we’d only really seen him at the height of his powers for about a season, it seemed, prior to his return, as though some people forgot just how good he really was when healthy. When it comes to knuckleballers, people tend to remember more of the bad than the good, at least in the short term. Tim Wakefield had some really ugly moments on the mound; yet, over the course of his career, he was incredibly valuable to the Red Sox and ended he tenure near the top of many of the team’s all-time statistical lists.
Like Wakefield, Wright’s less-than-stellar moments somehow seem to stand out more than his moments of brilliance. And yet, again like Wakefield, Wright has displayed more of the latter than the former. Before his 2017 injury, Wright was one of the best pitchers in baseball. He was a Cy Young contender for much of the campaign, until an injury suffered while running the bases threw him off course.
Since his return to the Red Sox, this time as a member of the bullpen, Wright has been nothing short of dominant. Some believe he’s earned a spot in the rotation, particularly because of the struggles of one of it’s current members (we’ll get to him later). The Sox, however, seem adamant about leaving him in the bullpen, and its hard to argue with that decision. Wright ability as a reliever, and specifically as a long reliever, is invaluable, and he’s historically been more effective out of the pen than in the rotation, if only slightly.
Right now, however, his numbers speak for themselves. In 16 innings of work, he’s 1-0 with 14 strikeouts, a 1.19 WHIP, and a sparkling 2.25 ERA. He’s thriving in the bullpen and has given the team some critical innings of quality relief work. He might still make it back to the rotation at some point this season. The decision makers could change their minds, or circumstances could force a switch. For the moment, however, it’s probably best to not fix something that isn’t broken.