Steven Wright Needs A Permanent Rotation Spot

The Boston Red Sox are in a tight battle with the New York Yankees for superiority in the AL East, and that won’t change anytime soon. It’s time to stop letting Drew Pomeranz take the mound and give Steven Wright, one of the league’s only knuckleballers, a permanent spot in the starting rotation.

Steven Wright joined the Red Sox at the trade deadline in 2013. After acquiring the Steven Wrightknuckleballer from the Cleveland Indians in exchange for Lars Anderson, the Sox only used Wright in ten contests over his first two seasons with the club. Wright found a niche in 2015 as a reliever, going 5-4 with a 4.09 ERA in 16 appearances. After a last-place finish in the AL East that year, the Red Sox entered 2016 with a revamped starting rotation. Wright was a part of this makeover, and he capitalized on his first season as a full-time starter. In 24 starts, he went 13-6 with a 3.33 ERA, 127 strikeouts, and four complete games. Wright’s breakout 2016 season also landed him a spot on the American League All-Star Team.

After consecutive last-place finishes, the Red Sox went 93-69 in 2016 and looked to have mended their rotation with the signing of David Price, the CY Young season of Rick Porcello, and the rise of Boston’s newest knuckleballer. Wright’s reign was short-lived, however. The following May, he underwent surgery to restore cartilage in his left knee and missed the remainder of 2017.

His problems followed him into the 2018 season. In March, the league suspended Wright for 15 games for violating the MLB’s personal conduct policy. Having completed his suspension on May 14,  Wright returned to his ballclub, but without a starting job. The culprit? Drew Pomeranz, who became a starter in Wright’s absence in 2017.

I will give credit where credit is due. In 2017, Drew Pomeranz looked every bit deserving of a spot in the Red Sox rotation. He went 17-6 with a 3.32 ERA and 174 punchouts and was a key cog in helping the Sox replicate their 2016 record of 93-69. And to begin this season, there was no justifiable reason to demote Pomeranz. He pitched as well as Wright did in his All-Star season, if not better.

Steven Wright Got His Groove Back

But now, over 60 games into the year, Steven Wright needs his spot back. Drew Pomeranz has allowed at least two earned runs in every single one of his starts this season. In eight starts, he is 1-3 with a staggering 6.81 ERA. And most recently, the team placed Pomeranz on the 10-day disabled list with tendinitis in his left bicep. Steven Wright made his first start of 2018 on June 5th against the Detroit Tigers. Throwing seven shutout innings with six strikeouts and just two hits, he reminded everyone what they’d been missing out on. On June 11th, Wright followed it up with another scoreless start against the Baltimore Orioles, surrendering just four hits in six innings of work. The knuckleballer has not allowed a run in 22 consecutive innings, and his ERA is down to 1.21 on the season.

The numbers alone are compelling enough. The knuckleball is a rare commodity in today’s MLB, and Wright’s superior numbers and novelty pitch make him all the more worthy of a starting job for this team.

The Red Sox Injuries Keep Adding Up

As of April 24th, 6 different Red Sox have been placed on the disabled list and while that may not seem like a large amount, the Red Sox injuries keep adding up:Red Sox Injuries

  • Christian Vazquez: placed 15 day-disabled list retroactive to March 25; recovering from Tommy John surgery
  • Carson Smith: placed on 15 day-disabled list retroactive to March 25; forearm strain
  • Eduardo Rodriguez: placed on 15 day-disabled list with right knee injury
  • Brandon Workman: placed on 15 day-disabled list while recovering from Tommy John surgery; transferred to 60 day-disabled list on 4/13
  • Pablo Sandoval: placed on 15 day-disabled list retroactive to April 11; shoulder strain
  • Joseph Kelly: placed on 15 day-disabled with right shoulder impingement

Losing E-Rod and Kelly has proven to be a significant blow to an already struggling rotation. With the loss of Carson Smith the bullpen has been severely overworked, but it has opened up opportunities for guys to step up. One of those guys has been Steven Wright. Wright, who has been the most consistent and dependable starter by far, has notched a 1-1 record with a 1.40 ERA with 17 strikeouts in 19.1 innings. While it remains to be seen if he stays in the rotation once Rodriguez returns, his 3 quality starts have surely earned him that right.

The return of Christian Vazquez from Tommy John surgery seem to have really paid off in small samples for the pitchers—most notably Rick Porcello. Porcello’s last 2 starts against the Jays and the Rays have been quite encouraging going 2-0, with 13 K’s in 13.1 IP. But this time is far from fixed and really could use a boost from guys who are on the mend. With that said though there is no guarantee the returns of E-Rod and Smith will pay dividends instantly,but what it should do is help stabilize the pitching staff as a whole.

The Sox currently sit in second place at 9-9 trailing the Orioles by 2.5 games. While I’m still hopefully that they can grab some wins during the 2 game set in Atlanta against the Braves and then back to Boston for 2 more, it’s pretty clear that they cannot afford another injury. God forbid another starter goes down with something, it begs the question: what the hell will this team do?

Downfall of Pablo Sandoval in Boston

Downfall of Pablo Sandoval…sounds like a movie screenplay debuting at the Loews Boston Common doesn’t it? Well, it’s not unfortunately. The tumultuous career of the Panda in a Sox uniform took another turn on Tuesday afternoon with the news of the Panda being placed on the disabled list retroactive from April 11th with what manager John Farrell is calling a left shoulder strain. A little surprising seeing as I wasn’t aware you could strain a shoulder while riding the pine on the bench, but hey, that’s the Panda for you.

Taking his place on the 25-man roster will be INF Josh Rutledge. Downfall of Pablo SandovalRutledge appeared in 39 games for the big club last season and hit .284 with 1 HR and 10 RBI.

For Pablo, who hit .245 with 10 homers and a .658 OPS, this trip to the disabled list could actually pay dividends for the third basemen. It will not only give him a chance work on his conditioning and weight, but it will also take him out of the media spotlight for the time being.

The Downfall of Pablo Sandoval is Weighty

With all the talk centered around his weight as well as the 95 million dollar price tag associated with that, Sandoval has become a lightning rod for criticism. It’s hard to envision him returning in a few weeks a changed man, but you never know. Best case scenario Pablo loses a few pounds, gets some regular at-bats on a rehab assignment and comes back ready to contribute. Worst case scenario he comes back and contributes jack, but let’s be honest are we really expecting him to come back and wow us? If you truly believe that well, that’s a conversation for another time.

I think the main things for him to focus on his getting his health and weight in check, finding a rhythm at the plate with some regular at-bats once he begins a rehab assignment, and a chance to clear his mind from all the scrutiny he has faced since spring training. The downfall of Pablo Sandoval has been tough to watch but it’s looking more and more like his time in Boston is coming to an end.

Clay Buchholz Disabled List Day

Clay Buccholz Disabled List Day—an annual tradition in which we see Buccholz show signs of why many could consider him a top of the rotation guy. But then, out of nowhere…BAM! Off to another stint on the disabled list. Let’s take a walk down memory Disabled List Boundlane shall we?

2008: 15-day DL: Right fingernail tear (blister); Games missed: 16

2010: 15-day DL: Left hamstring strain; Games missed: 18

2011: 60-day DL: Low back stress fracture; Games missed: 93

2012: 15-day DL: Esophagitis (apparently he doesn’t take his Pepcid AC); Games missed: 20

2013: 60-day DL: Right shoulder bursitis (neck strain); Games missed: 82

2014: 15-day DL: Left knee hyper-extension; Games missed: 28

2015: 15-day DL: Strained flexor muscle in his right elbow; Games missed: Remainder of the season

Cy Young Candidate…off to the disabled list.

It was only 3 years ago when in 2013, Potential Cy Young Award leader Buchholz was 9-0 on the season with a league leading 1.71 ERA. Amazing right? But, wait, spoiler alert! He ended up on the DL retroactive to June 9th.

Now correct me if I’m wrong, but if you have a pitcher who’s consistently injured on a what seems to be year round basis, why the hell is he still with this team? For starters, his contract. Buchholz had a $13 million dollar club option for 2016 that Dave Dombrowski chose to renew. For a pitcher (when healthy) who has shown the ability to not only win, but pitch effectively, the upside is worth the $13 million dollar contract.

Personally, I love Buchholz. I love him so much that for some odd reason I hold out hope that he will some day become the Ace of the Red Sox. I hold out hope that he will win the coveted Cy Young Award. Hell, I even hold out hope that he’ll throw another no-hitter like he did in 2007. But, then I come back down to reality and realize none of those things are never, ever, ever going to happen.

I’m sure many of those in Red Sox Nation would agree with me that the Clay Buchholz who we thought was going to be a superstar in Boston is long gone and that we are now left to watch a kid who had so much talent literally wilt away a few weeks into the season. Clay’s going to go out onto that mound every 5th day and compete, maybe throw 6,7 even 8 quality innings and get a few wins under his belt. But, Clay is also going to somehow end up with a pulled shoulder, a blister, or another bout of heartburn and end up on the good ol’ DL train. And this time around I don’t foresee that train ever coming back into Fenway Park station after the 2016 season.

So Clay, here’s to you! I hope nothing but the best for you this year, but I also hope this is the last year I have to see you in a Red Sox uniform.

Pedroia, Uehara Avoid Disabled List

Pedroia Uehara

On Monday, the Red Sox received great news on two of its best players. The team learned that Dustin Pedroia and Koji Uehara will avoid a stint on the disabled list and will re-join the Red Sox in Chicago for their series against the White Sox.

Both Pedroia and Uehara were examined on Monday and neither had any structural damage. The two players are both listed day-to-day as Boston opens a three-game series against the White Sox today.

Pedroia was sent back to Boston on Sunday with soreness in his wrist. He has been suffering from the injury since April 4, the day of the Red Sox home opener against the Milwaukee Brewers.

Pedroia has gotten off to a slow start this season. In 12 games, he’s hitting .236 with only one RBI.

Pedroia is no stranger to playing with injuries. In 2013, he tore the ulnar collateral ligament in his left thumb during the first game of the season, but still managed to play in 160 games.

The Red Sox announced in a release Monday that Pedroia underwent an MRI at Massachusetts General Hospital. The MRI revealed inflammation in his left wrist, but no fractures.

Uehara, who hasn’t pitched since April 9, has been dealing with shoulder soreness for the past week. The 39-year-old also underwent an MRI at Massachusetts General Hospital on Monday that revealed no structural damage in his right shoulder.

Uehara has not allowed a run in five one-inning appearances this season. He’s allowed only three hits and has struck out seven.

Prior to the Red Sox game against the New York Yankees on Sunday, Uehara threw off of a flat surface and the team reported no ill effects. Manager John Farrell said that the team would like Uehara to have at least one bullpen session before using him in a game.

The Red Sox also announced Monday that outfielder Shane Victorino, who started the season on the disabled list with a hamstring injury, is scheduled to begin a rehab assignment with one of the club’s minor league affiliates later this week.

Avoiding Injury and the Dreaded Disabled List

avoiding injury

Courtesy of

Avoiding injury during spring training has proved difficult for Will Middlebrooks and Stephen Drew. Middlebrooks got a ball to the wrist weeks ago and recovered. Drew got hit by a pitch and got his bell rung, resulting in a concussion. He still awaits clearance. David Ortiz is working each day to overcome ankle swelling, batting and running as the trainers allow.

Everyone involved in the game, from commentators to players, worry about obtaining injuries during these exhibition games. Everyone needs to be healthy for when it counts, the regular season. All players will compete tentatively, but with purpose, not wanting to risk a roster spot. In addition, perfect practice dictates perfect play later.

Baseball is a game of dynamic, explosive actions made by the body. Quick blasts of energy are needed from relatively sedentary positions, standing at the plate or in a defensive position on the field. A fast run to first base, or sprint to catch the ball in center field are the norm. Throw in a hard cored, leather covered ball weighing approximately 5 pounds, being hit and thrown in excess of 90 MPH, and you have some serious opportunities for injuries.

People may laugh that the biggest news out of spring training on a given day may be that someone ran the bases, or a pitcher threw a simulated start, but this is no laughing matter. The other implication of an injury incurred during spring training is wasted money. Players may end up riding the pine in the regular season still getting paid. This does nothing, but hurt the organization’s finances, as they are paying someone to sit.  Even worse, injured players may be traded, forcing teams to give talent away only for those players to compete against them once healthy.

All the preparation in the world cannot eliminate the risk or occurrence of injury. Some things in this game of strategy and control are left to fear and fate. These fears are especially real after the injury laden 2012 season. The clubhouse had a record 24 players on the disabled list last year in the first week of August 2012. Currently, we have about 4-5 players in physical trouble, including Ryan Kalish, Drew, and Ortiz. Alfredo Aceves, meanwhile, jumped right into the fire brawling during the World Baseball Classic and nearly another, during Saturday’s tilt with the Rays. Aceves, if you are going to fight, use your feet not the instruments that earn you money—your hands and arms. With a solid 4.50 ERA for spring training, we still need him as either a closer or possible starter.  Cool out, dude!

avoiding injury

These are the only knuckles fans want to see from Aceves. Courtesy of

While we do not want to see talent wasted, or accidentally injured during pre-season action, the only bright side would be the opportunities for young, talented prospects to come up from Pawtucket.