After making the All Star Game last year, Steven Wright was a forgotten man on the Boston Red Sox. The way he is pitching in Spring Training is changing that.
The Boston Red Sox starting rotation is deep heading into 2017 with the likes of All-Stars Chris Sale and David Price, along with 2016 Cy Young Award Winner Rick Porcello. After that, there is a battle for the last two rotation spots and Steven Wright is making a strong case for why he deserves it this spring. Wright, a 2016 All-Star himself, is on track to be the Red Sox fourth starter, and with the way he has pitched he could make the Boston rotation even more dangerous.
Wright has been recovering from an injury he suffered in August of 2016. Before the injury, Wright was pitching well for the Red Sox, going 13-6 with a 3.33 earned run average in 24 starts. He pitched four complete games, which is a sign of his ability to pitch deep into games.
This spring, Wright has pitched in two games, racking up five scoreless innings and striking out one. While it is a small sample size, it is a promising step in his road to recovery. He is on a five-day schedule and will be looking to take the fourth start for the Red Sox once the season starts. There is reason to believe his spring success will carry over into the season.
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Successful Knuckleball Pitchers Tend To Break Out Late
Wright is a knuckleball pitcher, which helps him eat up innings and stay durable by not throwing incredibly hard. Although he is 32 years old, that should not be alarming. Successful knuckleball pitchers have blossomed later in their careers in past cases.
Tim Wakefield didn’t break into the majors until age 25, and didn’t become a consistent big league pitcher until age 28. His only All Star selection came at age 42 and he pitched until he was 44.
R.A. Dickey broke into the Majors at age 26 and didn’t become a consistent starter until age 35. He won the Cy Young Award at age 37 and is currently pitching for the Atlanta Braves at age 42. Wright is on a similar path, breaking into the big leagues at age 28 and making the All Star team for the first time at age 31.
If Wright stays healthy and at top form, he could consistently eat innings and be a valuable asset in a big league starting rotation. He has to prove himself this year to show last season was not a fluke. The Red Sox have had experience with Wakefield in the past. John Farrell, the current Red Sox manager, was Wakefield’s pitching coach from 2007 to 2010 and knows how to work with pitchers like Wright. Wakefield’s only All Star appearance was during Farrell’s time in Boston. If Farrell uses the same magic with Wright, the Red Sox could have a durable, effective starter for years to come.
He Could Give The Red Sox Another Valuable Arm
This is the year Steven Wright can prove he is more than a one-hit wonder. If he is able to stay healthy and pitch the way he did during his All Star season in 2016, the Red Sox will have a four-headed monster in their rotation. To be four All-Star caliber starters deep in a league where pitching is valuable would put Boston in great shape to win the American League pennant and possibly the World Series.
Championship hopes in Boston don’t ride on Wright’s success, but a big season from him could be the factor that turns the Boston Red Sox rotation into arguably the deepest to deepest without a doubt. The sample size is small, but his 2016 performance and the similar paths of successful knuckleball pitchers are reasons for optimism for Steven Wright in 2017.