With a less-than-assured starting rotation to work with this season the Red Sox have been saved by a 31-year-old knuckleballer making just a tick over $350K and it’s totally awesome.
Steven Wright continued his unreal 2016 campaign with a nine-inning, five-hit, one unearned performance Monday night against the White Sox, and if the Red Sox could’ve figured out how to score a damn run with the bases loaded and no outs in the ninth inning Wright would’ve picked up his 9th win of the season but hey that’s besides the point.
Either way, Wright padded his stat line even more so, and with the season now three months in Wright is one of the leading candidates for the A.L. Cy Young Award as things currently stand.
Wright is either leading or near the top of all major statistics among A.L. pitchers, with his 2.01 ERA resting atop the leaderboard as well as his home runs per nine innings (0.37). He’s tied with Chicago’s Chris Sale with three complete games and is second only to teammate David Price with 98.1 innings pitched. His 6.5 hits per nine innings is third-best while his 1.098 WHIP comes in at 10th-best, although the nature of the knuckleball results in more walks than power pitchers.
One of the only things going against Wright at the moment is his record, as his 8-4 mark on paper isn’t sparkling when compared to Sale’s 11-2 or Chris Tillman’s 10-1. Also, his 80 strikeouts have him outside the top 10 in the stat, yet no one makes it look better when he gets batters to swing and miss than Wright.
Wright is also in the conversation to start the All-Star Game in Petco Park on July 12, which would be quite the story for a player who was born in Southern California just 90 minutes outside of San Diego in Moreno Valley. He was asked about the possibility of being the no. 1 man out of the gate for the Summer Classic and politely kept that idea under guard.
“It’s one of those things, it’s out of your control,” he told reporters postgame Monday. “I get asked about it a lot. I don’t think about it. If you start worrying about things you can’t control, then it’s going to start affecting things you can control.”
For a lot of fans they’re wondering if Wright can continue to deal at such a pace the deeper we get into the season, and hopefully, into the postseason. But with the way he’s going right now it’s time to jump in with both feet. With David Price settling into his role as a legit no. 1 atop the rotation (for the moment) Wright is a surefire no. 2 right behind him. The rotation could still use an extra top arm at the top of the line, which would likely push Wright to the no. 3 spot but even there he can thrive and continue to stifle the opposition. The longer he does it, the bigger the legend will grow.