Steven Wright

Why you should have cared about Friday's Red Sox game: Sox owner John Henry's state of disbelief; Steven Wright's case for 2015

September 26, 2014 - 6:14 pm

It becomes a bit harder to write this on a night where the Red Sox owner wrote this:

So, we'll keep this brief: The Red Sox entered the year a wealth of upper levels pitching prospects in Triple-A and Double-A. Assessments of the team's rotation depth naturally centered around Henry Owens (Baseball America's No. 2 Red Sox prospect entering the year), Allen Webster (No. 4), Brandon Workman (No. 8), Matt Barnes (No. 9), Anthony Ranaudo (No. 11) and even Brian Johnson. Virtually no one was talking about Steven Wright, who -- despite a solid first impression in some big league call-ups -- went unranked by the publication. Wright will not -- or at least should not -- be overlooked entering 2015. The right-hander made his first big league start of 2014 on Friday night in an eventual 3-2 Sox loss to the Yankees. Against a New York lineup that looked like it was straight out of Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, he proved effective, allowing two runs (none earned) on four hits (all singles) in five innings. He walked two and struck out four, his knuckleball moving well enough that he gave fits to both the Yankees lineup and catcher Dan Butler (two passed balls). In 21 big league innings, he has a 2.57 ERA with 22 strikeouts and four walks. Of all the prospects whom the Sox have cycled through the big leagues from Pawtucket over the final two months of the year, Wright's ability to throw strikes while eliciting either swings and misses or bad contact has been the most consistent. The net result? Wright will be in the conversation going forward for innings at the big league level in 2015. His ability to change speeds and throw strikes with his knuckleball suggests a pitcher who has a chance to contribute to the Sox rotation. He will not be overlooked in prospect circles, and certainly not in the Red Sox organization, for what he might be able to offer going forward. "He'€™s in the right place," said manager John Farrell, "an organization that embraces this type of pitcher." OTHER REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD HAVE CARED ABOUT FRIDAY'S GAME -- Rusney Castillo, to underscore that Thursday's home run power was no fluke, went deep again, crushing a slider from right-hander Shawn Kelly onto Lansdowne Street. In 30 big league at-bats, Castillo is hitting .267 with an .813 OPS. He's showing a surprising ability to get his bat on the ball given that he's facing big league pitching for the first time and that he's doing so after what amounts to a 16-month stretch without playing in games following his defection from Cuba, and he's not merely making contact but showing an ability to drive the ball. -- Matt Barnes had a mixed two-inning outing. He gave up hits to the first two batters he faced and eventually permitted a run, but he showed a 94-96 mph fastball, comfort mixing in his curveball and changeup and threw plenty of strikes, doing so with 27 of his 39 offerings (69 percent). -- Bryce Brentz offered a glimpse of his all-fields power, getting robbed of a homer that took Yankees center fielder Eury Perez to the bullpen fence in right-center, next to the Triangle, and later sending another high fly ball to the warning track in left-center. Brentz did collect an RBI single before those two resounding outs, and is now hitting .389. -- Draft watch: Sox lose. The Astros were leading the Mets in the eighth, which would drop Houston into a tie with the Sox for the No. 6 pick. The Cubs were winning, which would move them two games behind the Sox. The Twins were beating the Tigers handily, which would trim their "advantage" over the Sox for the No. 5 pick to one game with two to go.