(Photo Credit: Yahoo Sports)
By Joshua Nord-@NordJoshua
It’s mid June, far away from the All Star break, and the July 31 non waiver trade deadline. Yet Red Sox pitching just got a much needed boost from the return of two pitchers whose careers have all been but average. Knuckleballer Steven Wright, and reliever Brandon Workman both have been turning in impressive results for a pitching corps that needed the help. Here’s how they’ve been faring.
There were many questions posed at the beginning of the year for the knuckleballer. Wright is two years removed from having his potential Cy Young dreams dashed due to a baserunning shoulder injury, due mostly in part to the reckless managing of John Farrell. Followed by knee surgery which kept him out the entirety of 2017.
Trouble followed him off the field with a terrible domestic abuse case which saddled him for a fifteen game suspension, and no remaining minor league options? With possibly only one shot remaining in the Red Sox organization, it wasn’t out of the question to consider the fact that Wright’s days might be numbered.
Yet this is baseball, and what you assume couldn’t happen often times does. The Tennessee native came back on May 15th and made an immediate impact out of the bullpen. Being able to go multiple innings gave manager Alex Cora a whole new game plan for tackling the late innings. Yet where he really shined was in the starter role. Much like his 2016 campaign, he’s been stellar as of late. Before his brutal 1-0 loss in Seattle, he had thrown twenty four and two thirds of consecutive scoreless innings. In all three starts Wright has gone at least six and two thirds innings. During that span of starts, he’s pitching to 0.44 ERA.
Wrights impact cannot be understated for a Sox team in need of depth, his versatility puts him head and shoulders above most deadline acquisitions. Being a knuckleballer means there’s always going to be questions about his effectiveness. But right now? With a division race as tight as this one, Steven Wright has been about as lights out as they come.
Not much is being said about Workman. Once one of the heroes of the 2013 World Championship squad, he’s been battling injuries and poor results ever since. He’s come up once again as a reliever for the Sox this season, appearing in seven games and giving up just one single run. To that degree, it’s time to start talking his potential as a set up man.
To date the late innings haven’t been kind to the Red Sox. In fact, opposing runs scored against them in eighth, the Red Sox rank thirteenth out of the thirty teams. Not terrible, mostly owed to Joe Kelly’s incredible season thus far, but for reference the defending world series champions Houston Astros rank second. For a team as good as Boston, it’s hard to think anything about them is middle of the pack. Yet the bridge to the ninth has seemed to elude President Dombrowski.
Is this a problem on his end? Or just a continuation of the terrible luck which has followed him from Detroit. Look at his attempts: He traded for Kimbrel, Tyler Thornburg hasn’t played a single regular season game for the Sox yet, Carson Smith might be dealing with a potential career ending injury, Addison Reed was moderately successful but quickly crushed in the playoffs, Fernando Abad was terrible and now popped for PEDs. I may go so far as to say the only effective non closer reliever Dombrowski brought in was a thirty six year old Brad Ziegler, remember him?
What am I saying? That looking outside for an answer has proven to be the wrong decision time and time again. Workman is cheap, has the experience, a postseason resume, and most of all he’s already on the team.
It’s time to finally start letting him show us all what he can do.
ICYMI: AVIDBOSTON PODCAST EPISODE 55!
(2:20) SOX/MARINERS RECAP!
(18:20) DEVERS RESURGING!
(32:00) WRIGHT BETTER IN ROTATION OR ‘PEN?
(46:10) KELLY OR KIMBREL AFTER 2018? WHO STAYS?
Also available on iTunes!