Steven Wright

Why you should have cared about Saturday's Red Sox game: Steven Wright's situation is starting to get interesting

Rob Bradford
September 13, 2014 - 7:02 pm
(For the final month of the regular season, "Closing Time" will be called "Why you should have cared," looking beyond the final score -- at a time when losses are arguably more valuable to the Sox than wins (for draft and waiver position) -- for either meaningful signs for 2015 or simple aesthetic considerations.) KANSAS CITY -- Just about everything Red Sox-related Saturday night at Kauffman Stadium proved to be uninspiring for the visitors in their 7-1 defeat to the Royals. Starter Rubby De La Rosa struggled. The offense was shut down by KC hurler Jeremy Guthrie. And even Matt Barnes, the rookie who had left such a positive impression in his major league debut hit a bump in the road while pitching the eighth inning (2 runs, 3 hits). But then there was Steven Wright. The knuckleballer did what he has done since joining the Red Sox, turn in a stellar performance. This time the outing included Wright throwing three shutout innings in which he allowed three hits while not walking a batter. In three big league outings this season, Wright has allowed just one run over 12 innings (all in relief), striking out 12 and walking just one. This follows 100 innings in the minor leagues (between both Double-A Portland and Triple-A Pawtucket), where he totaled a 3.42 ERA, striking out 72 and walking 23. Suddenly, the 30-year-old has become an interesting option for a hardly-defined 2015 pitching staff. "It's definitely a little mechanical, the adjustments I've done over the course of the year," Wright said. "But a lot of it is mental. Last year I was pitching away from contact, more swings and misses. This year I want ...  every time I throw it, I want them to put in play, minus a couple times. Maybe 0-2 I'll try to get a swing and miss but for the most part every time I throw a pitch I want it to be right down the middle and maybe they'll mishit it. "I definitely feel more comfortable than I was last year. I still have a lot to learn with the pitch but what I've done this year compared to what I've done last year I think I'm definitely going in the right direction." Wright does have some elements working against him when vying for a spot on the '15 roster. He is a knuckleballer, so the potential of uncertainty is going to hover no matter how good he pitches. The righty also will still have one option remaining for next season, opening the door for another stint in the minors. The focus continues to be on the likes of De La Rosa, Allen Webster, Joe Kelly, Anthony Ranaudo, Matt Barnes and Brandon Workman finding spots in the Sox' '15 rotation. But, judging by Wright's showing of late, maybe another name should added for consideration. "I just want to be on the team. That's what my ultimate goal is, to be in the major leagues," Wright said. "I want to do whatever I can to do to make it a hard decision for them. And then whatever the situation is, I can't control where they send me. All I can do is make sure I'm prepared when I go out there and be as effective as I can. I definitely don't try to think about it. Whatever happens, happens." OTHER REASONS YOU SHOULD HAVE CARED ABOUT SATURDAY'S GAME -- De La Rosa may be the latest young Red Sox starter to be riding up on his innings cliff. After his four-inning, five-run stint, De La Rosa has thrown a total of 156 innings (between the minors and majors), 46 more than his professional high of 110 1/3 innings in 2010. It should also be noted that the righty is also two seasons removed from Tommy John surgery. While De La Rosa had labored somewhat through his previous three outings, Saturday night seemed to present the most lackluster picture. He didn't allow a walk of home run, but still gave up six hits to the light-hitting Royals while striking out only two. "Every time he walks to the mound is a good test, regardless of the number of innings pitched in a given year," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "We are limiting his innings pitched, but we don't want to shut him down. There's some benefit to be had by continuing his work routine through the end of the season. -- Mookie Betts got his major league debut at second base out of the way, fielding both ground balls hit his way. The leadoff hitter did go hitless for just the third time his last 14 games.