If you were to look at Steven Wright's stats since the beginning of the season, you would still say that he is having a very good year. He has a 12-5 record with a 3.12 ERA in 132.2 innings pitched. A very respectable year for anyone, nevermind someone who wasn't even expected to be in the majors this year. However, even with the good numbers, Steven Wright is trending in the wrong direction.
Before the All-Star break Wright was 10-5 in 17 games with a league-leading 2.68 ERA. Since the break, Wright still hasn't suffered a loss, but his ERA has sky rocketed to 5.79; 6.37 in the month of July. He has given up 23 runs on 33 hits in only 29.2 innings pitched. This is not a good sign for Wright, especially knowing the knuckleball is so unpredictable over the course of a season.
Through April and May, hitters were struggling to see the knuckleball no matter how many times they saw it in a game. As the season went on, we started seeing hitters make contact in the later innings, as they got to see the knuckleball more. Since July, hitters have started making contact and stringing together hits earlier in the game, and the Tigers even got to him in the first inning last night. This means the knuckleball doesn't have its best movement, and the hitters are starting to see the ball well. A trend that could be a death sentence for a knuckleballer.
There are 64 games remaining this season, 23 of them are home games, while 41 are away. Those 41 away games also include two 11-game road trips, a feat with which most teams will struggle. However, there is a silver lining that comes with this situation.
Wright has made 11 starts at Fenway Park, and 9 starts away from home. Wright's ERA at home is 4.02, while his ERA during away games improves to 2.13. Wright is the only pitcher in the rotation whose ERA improves away from Fenway.
Another reason Wright still might turn this around is that between the Rays and Blue Jays, the Sox have 16 games on turf. Playing on Grass, Wright has a 3.12 ERA, while on turf, it drops to an impressive 1.35. The low number may be a product of a small sample size and a great first half, but 1.35 is impressive nonetheless.
Everyone knows that with a long season there will be ups and downs, and right now Wright is down. I know we've heard this rhetoric before with Price, but Wright isn't as bad as his last few starts have shown. I do believe we have seen the best of him, but that doesn't mean he can't have a very good second half, and get this team to the playoffs.
By Matt Watts