|Here comes the heat! courtesy of bosoxinjection.com|
Looking at the rotation, Josh Beckett has spent a considerable amount of time on the DL two of the past three years - starting only 22 games in a lost 2010 season. Similarly, Daisuke Matzusaka has only started 37 games in the last two years. John Lackey has proven to be a workhorse, but even he spent time on the disabled list in 2009 and 2010. As has been the case for the last five years, someone is going to need to step in the role of 6th man in the rotation. In 2007, it was Manny's best friend, Julian Tavarez starting 23 games. In 2008, it was Bartolo Colon and Paul Byrd. In 2009, it was John Smoltz and Byrd. Wakefield enjoyed this honor last year and only managed to win 4 games in 19 starts. Damn you, Boof. Every year, a pitcher - usually of advanced age - is required to start 5 to 10 times. It's these starts that can either be throw away games, or games that energize a club. Either way, they become the most important games in a tight pennant race with the New York Yankees and the Tampa Bay Rays.
This year is different though; these starts are even more critical. With "run prevention" and "bridge year" replaced with "Sky is the limit" and "We won't rest," this year's team merely needs someone to eat up innings that would otherwise be going to a taxed bullpen. Pitching seven innings and giving up 6 earned runs is ok this year because the Red Sox will will those games 8-6, rather than lose them 6-3. There is no reason to throw away any games with this offense. Wakefield's 10 starts could mean the difference between going to the playoffs or finishing behind the Yankees and the Rays. And I laugh at you if you think Felix Doubrant is the answer.
I thought Bonser was going to be that man last year, and I was wrong. But Wakefield is the key to the Boston Red Sox 2011 season. And if he's not, then he is still Tim Wakefield and we are not.