The Red Sox make me crazy, no secret there. Currently on my (s)hit list: Drew Pomeranz, Dustin Pedroia, semi-permanent member David Price, and Pablo Sandoval, because we’re still paying him while he hits home runs off fellow Sox failure Clay Buchholz.
But surprisingly, Steven Wright is no longer on that list. The newly-activated pitcher had his first start of the season on Tuesday, and it was impressive as hell. He threw seven shutout innings to propel the Sox to a 6-0 win over the Detroit Tigers.
Wright’s night started off wrong (wordplay!), walking the leadoff batter Leonys Martin and giving up a hit to Nicholas Castellanos. But his defense had his back, and the game stayed scoreless. He walked 3 batters over the first 2 innings, but then he settled in. It was Porcello-esque; once he got over the hump and the offense scored a few runs, Wright was relentlessly dominant. He 1-2-3 fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh innings. His final line: 7 shutout innings allowing 2 hits and 3 walks. He had 13 consecutive outs and 6 strikeouts.
So has Wright made his case to be a permanent member of the starting rotation? Probably not just yet. Knuckleballs aren’t exactly synonymous with consistency, and Wright has had his fair share of injuries. But he’s also proved effective in the bullpen, so splitting his time isn’t the worst idea. Having a crew of alternates who can do both is actually a really great idea for the Sox; with pitchers like Brian Johnson, Hector Velazquez, and Wright available to start or pen, there’s a lot less pressure on ERod, Price, Sale, and Porcello.
But I would say that Wright has made a case to start over Pomeranz, who hasn’t had a 7-inning start all season. In fact, Pomeranz’s last start to go 7 innings was May 31, 2017, and it was his only one of the entire season. In 53 career starts, Pom’s only pitched 7 innings twice.
Wright, meanwhile, is a beast when he’s healthy. His best season over five with the Sox was 2016, when he posted a 3.33 ERA, 1.245 WHIP, and had 4 complete games and a shutout. Over 156.2 innings, he had 127 strikeouts, averaging 7 per game. He only gave up 12 homers among the 310 batters he faced. If he can stay healthy, there’s hope 2018 can be an even stronger season for him.