The Boston Red Sox plan to activate knuckleball pitcher Steven Wright from the 10-day disabled list on Saturday when rosters expand.
The walking wounded continue to make their way back toward the Boston Red Sox roster. Several players currently sidelined on the disabled list are ready to return but the team is waiting for rosters to expand on September 1 to activate them.
We heard earlier this week that Eduardo Rodriguez and Christian Vazquez are going to be activated on Saturday, the first day that teams can expand from 25 active players to the full 40-man roster. It now appears that Steven Wright will be joining them.
This has essentially been a lost season for Wright, who has been on the disabled list since late-June with left knee inflammation. He also started the year on the DL while recovering from surgery on that same knee, delaying his season debut until May 15.
Wright has made only 10 appearances in the majors this season, including four starts. He’s 2-1 with a 3.38 ERA and 1.25 WHIP but he’s walked 20 batters with only 31 strikeouts in 40 innings. That 1.55 K/BB ratio leaves a lot to be desired.
On the other hand, Wright has never really been a strikeout guy. The walks will make you cringe but that’s the price you pay for being a knuckleball pitcher. Control will be an issue when you throw a pitch that you can’t predict where it’s going.
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Wright’s role when he returns is a bit uncertain. You could make a case based on the All-Star upside that he’s shown in the past that he warrants a rotation spot. However, it’s a flimsy argument based on his limited action this year.
Rodriguez will be locked into a starting role when he returns, bumping spot starter Hector Velazquez from the rotation. Wright could conceivably take Brian Johnson‘s spot. The lefty has been shaky in three starts since rejoining the rotation. His 4.39 ERA over that span is suitable for a backend starter but Johnson hasn’t made it through five innings in either of his last two starts.
Johnson has been a pleasant surprise overall when called on to start this season but a healthy Wright has more upside. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter much. Whichever one of them gets that rotation spot is merely keeping it warm for when Chris Sale returns.
Wright could be effective as a long reliever. He’s capable of logging multiple innings out of the bullpen and his knuckleball style allows him to bounce back on short notice when necessary. He can also throw teams off by giving them a drastically different look in the middle of a game, as opposed to giving teams a chance to prepare for the knuckleball if he’s starting.
Regardless of how the Red Sox use Wright, he has the ability to give this pitching staff a boost as long as he’s healthy.