Steven Wright

Tuesday's Red Sox-Marlins matchups: Steven Wright vs. Justin Nicolino

August 11, 2015 - 4:56 am
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The Red Sox will continue to ride the knuckleball of Steven Wright Tuesday when he takes the mound against rookie southpaw Justin Nicolino and the last-place Marlins. Wright's signature pitch has proven its worth time and time again over his last two starts, as he's drawn a .185/.241/.296 opponents' slash line in those two outings. The right-hander has gone 15 innings over these two outings and allowed just three runs. Perhaps most impressive about his recent performance are the swings and misses he has generated -- 10 against the White Sox on July 30 and a whopping 16 against the Yankees last Wednesday. Wright used the knuckleball on 97.4 percent of his pitches last Wednesday and his season-high usage rate on the pitch came against the White Sox when he tossed it 98.2 percent of the time. "Early on I thought he mixed his fastball in well," Red Sox manager John Farrell said after his team's 8-2 win over the White Sox. "Not exclusively to the use of his knuckleball. I think he needed it because he didn'€™t have a real good feel for it the first couple innings. Once he did get the feel for it -- the consistency, the violence, the action in the strike-throwing ability improved across the board. Slowed him down. As they came into this series, we saw for three nights what they did. Started things off the same way, but he settled in and pitched a very solid outing for us." In eight starts this season, Wright has given up more than three earned runs just once and he sports a 5-4 record and a 4.12 ERA in 15 total appearances. Though he should be helped out by the vast expanse of outfield in Marlins Park, Wright has struggled on the road this season. In nine games away from Fenway Park, he's logged a 4.42 ERA with eight home runs allowed. He'll try to push the Red Sox out of the AL's cellar when he takes the bump Tuesday. Nicolino will toe the rubber for the Marlins on Tuesday, making his third career big league start. The former second-round pick is 1-1 with a 4.09 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP. He features a four-pitch mix which includes a fastball, cutter, curveball and changeup. His heater is by no means over-powering, sitting at 88-92 mph, so he relies more than most on location and command. "His pitchability is tremendous," Marlins director of player development Brian Chattin said of Nicolino back in April. "He's not a guy that's always looking to strike hitters out; he's comfortable getting early contact. He throws up in the zone. He'll throw strikes with every pitch that he has. He's very aggressive, and that's what you like about him." Nicolino impressed in his major league debut, logging seven shutout innings en route to the win on June 20 vs. the Reds. However, five days later against the Dodgers, he self-destructed, allowing five runs in four innings before getting the hook from manager Dan Jennings. In the minors this year, Nicolino has pitched well, boasting a 7-7 record and a 3.52 ERA. For his career, he is 45-21 with a 2.81 ERA in the minors. Red Sox vs. Nicolino (LHP) No Red Sox have faced Nicolino. Marlins vs. Wright (RHP) No Marlins have faced Wright.

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