Steven Wright

Thursday's Red Sox-White Sox matchups: Steven Wright vs. Chris Sale

July 30, 2015 - 4:58 am
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After losing the first three games of the series with the White Sox, the Red Sox hope to avoid a sweep on Thursday as they send Steven Wright to the hill opposite Chris Sale.

The knuckleballer Wright has amassed a 3-4 record and 4.78 ERA this season in 13 appearances. He has made six starts for the Red Sox and also pitched out of the bullpen. His ERA is perhaps artificially low, considering his 5.45 FIP. Wright has totaled a WHIP of 1.329.

Wright is one of a handful of Red Sox pitchers to have their roles shift numerous times throughout the 2015 season. Due to unimpressive results from the likes of Justin Masterson and Joe Kelly, as well as the injury to Clay Buchholz, spots have opened up in the rotation at various points in the season.Wright spent a month with Triple-A Pawtucket before being called up and reintroduced to the rotation against the Angels on July 20. He got the loss in the contest, allowing six runs over five innings pitched.

In his most recent start, Wright got another loss, this coming at the hands of the Tigers on Saturday. He lasted just 4 1/3 innings and allowed four runs (two earned) on five hits. He and catcher Blake Swihart had trouble connecting with the knuckleball, as Swihart allowed four passed balls.

"I thought he had some decent violence to the pitch," Red Sox manager John Farrell said of Wright. "Then there were a few that he left up in the strike zone, particularly to [Yoenis] Cespedes and [Jose] Iglesias for two of the extra-base hits. Where Blake has handled him relatively cleanly in his previous starts, he had difficulty with receiving him clean today, which allowed [runners] to advance 90 feet on a couple of occasions. Felt like where we were in the order in the fifth inning, needed to try and get a ground ball double play and Ramirez gets out of the inning with no further damage, but probably not as consistent of a knuckleball we've seen from Steven previously."

Wright will have his work cut out for him, as his opponent is one of the best pitchers in the American League. Sale owns a 9-5 record and 2.85 ERA. The lanky left-hander boasts a 0.995 WHIP and an American-League-leading 2.32 FIP. He also owns a league-leading K-rate with 11.5 strikeouts per nine innings.

Due in part to the struggles of the White Sox this season (49-50, 12 games behind the Royals in the AL Central), the team is considering trading away some of its veterans. Fans across the country have salivated over the prospect of trading for Sale, but it seems likely the White Sox will hold on to their ace. According to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, Tuesday's starter at Fenway, Jeff Samardzija, is the more likely pitcher to be dealt from the South Side.

In his last outing, Sale got a win over the Indians in Cleveland on Saturday. He pitched seven innings and allowed two runs on seven hits. He struck out seven and did not walk a batter. The White Sox took a 10-3 decision.

"You get out in front. Especially with Sailor going it's nice to have," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said of his ace. "You know you're going to have him going out there. He gives you what he usually does, he gives you pretty close to unhittable stuff."

In seven career outings against the Red Sox, Sale has a ridiculous 0.89 ERA and .689 WHIP across 20 1/3 innings pitched. Just two of those appearances were starts, the others coming in relief roles.

White Sox vs. Wright (RHP)

No White Sox hitters have faced Wright.

Red Sox vs. Sale (LHP)

Mike Napoli (11 plate appearances): .091 AVG/.167 OBP/.091 SLG, 1 walk, 5 strikeouts

David Ortiz (10): .200/.200/.200, 2 strikeouts

Xander Bogearts (6): .200/.333/.800, 1 home run, 1 RBI, 2 strikeouts

Pablo Sandoval (6): .000/.000/.000, 1 RBI, 2 walks

Brock Holt (6): .000/.000/.000, 2 strikeouts

Jackie Bradley Jr. (5): .000/.000/.000, 2 strikeouts

Daniel Nava (4): .000/.000/.000, 2 strikeouts

No other Red Sox have faced Sale.

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