Tim Wakefield and his trusty knuckleball have had quite a career.
Tim Wakefield has really had an amazing career. He burst onto the scene as a 25-year old rookie with the 1992 Pirates, the Bonds-Bonilla-Van Slyke-Drabek Pirates that won three straight division titles. Wakefield went 8-1 with a 2.15 ERA in 13 starts down the stretch for Pittsburgh, then pitched two complete game wins in the NLCS against the Braves. Then, just like that, the honeymoon was over.
Wakefield struggled mightily in 1993, his knuckleball no longer as effective, and his record descended to 6-11 in 20 starts. His ERA ballooned to 5.61, and it might have been higher had Wakefield not ended his season with two successive shutouts. He spent most of July and all of August in the minor leagues in 1993, when he was 26, the current age as fellow knuckler Charlie Haeger, and stayed there for all of 1994 as well. He was released at the end of spring training in 1995, his future now largely in doubt.
He signed with the Red Sox one week later, looking to resurrect his career. He spent a month in Pawtucket to fine tune things, and once he was called up to the Red Sox, now in a new league, Wakefield proceeded to dwarf his Pittsburgh debut. Wakefield allowed three runs in his first four starts with Boston, including a 10-inning complete game win over Seattle. In his first 17 starts with the Red Sox, Wakefield was 14-1 with a 1.65 ERA. He ended the season 16-8 with a 2.95 ERA for the division-winning Sox, and placed third in the Cy Young voting behind Randy Johnson and Jose Mesa.
Wakefield has been with the Red Sox ever since. Year in and year out, he has eaten innings, putting up an adjusted ERA at league average or better in 12 of the last 15 seasons. He dabbled in the bullpen at times from 1999-2002, saving 15 games in 1999, but he has been a staple in the Boston starting rotation for a decade and a half. He has started at least 15 games for each of the last 15 seasons.
In the 110-year history of the Red Sox, nobody has made more starts or pitched more innings than the unassuming knuckleballer. This is a storied franchise that has given us Cy Young, a pitcher after which the sport's most prestigious pitching award is named, and Roger Clemens, the man who has won that award more times than any other. Yet, Wakefield sits atop the Sox franchise leaderboard in starts and innings.
In the interest of fairness, I should also point out that Wakefield also leads in home runs, hits, and walks allowed as well. Wakefield allowed the pennant-winning walk-off home run to Aaron Boone in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS, but he also won two games in the series and might have won the series MVP award had Boston held on to their Game 7 lead.
Wakefield made his first All-Star team last season, at age 42, making him the second-oldest first-time All-Star behind Satchel Paige. Aside from today, I can't help but root for Wakefield. He truly has had a remarkable career.
Padilla is Back
One day after Garret Anderson hit his first home run since April 22, Vicente Padilla will take the mound for the first time since April 22. On the surface, Padilla's numbers aren't pretty, with a 6.65 ERA in four starts, but what was lost when he went down with an irritated radial nerve was a pitcher who was pitching very well, rebounding nicely after a poor beginning to his season. In his last three starts, Padilla walked three batters while striking out 21, and on the season his x-FIP is 3.95.
That's A Relief
The Dodger bullpen has had its share of troubles this season, from the struggles of the normally reliable Ramon Troncoso and George Sherrill to the mere existence of Ramon and Russ Ortiz, but as a unit looks awfully similar to last season at this time:
|Dodger Bullpen Through 67 Games|
- To make room for Padilla on the roster, Carlos Monasterios was placed on the disabled list with a blister on his right index finger
- Since 1994, the Dodgers are 10-1 against starting pitchers 43 years old or older, a subset that includes Jamie Moyer, Randy Johnson, David Wells, Roger Clemens, and Charlie Hough.
- Wakefield happens to be the only Red Sox player ever to lose a game to the Dodgers in Boston, allowing eight runs on 10 hits in 4 1/3 innings, losing to Jeff Weaver on June 12, 2004
- Padilla has made three career appearances at Fenway Park, all coming in the month of June: a one-batter relief appearance while with the Phillies on June 10, 2001 and a pair of seven-inning, three-run starts as a Ranger, June 9, 2006 and June 7, 2009
Game Time: 1:10 pm