26 August 2009
Tim Wakefield returns from the DL tonight and although there is always the chance that the knuckle ball just won't knuckle, I think Wake's return to the rotation is going to stabilize this pitching staff.
The Sox have been scraping by with two aces in Beckett and Lester and a collection of kids and post-surgery veterans that have done more harm than good in my opinion.
If Wake can give us even 75% of what he had going in the first half when he won 11 games and earned his first ever All-Star nod, then we should be in good shape for September.
Wake's gonna give up his fair share of hits (113 in 108.2 IP), but if you give him 30 starts he'll win you 12-15 games and hold an ERA in the low 4s. Wake was on pace for more than 15 wins this season before the injury, but his ERA was right there 4.31 - just a hair off his career mark of 4.32.
Tonight will be a good test for Wake with some power bats in the Chi Sox lineup. Wake is 7-11 with a 5.11 ERA against the White Sox, but the big name guys for Chicago have not fared well against the knuckleball: Thome - 8 for 52 (.514), 3 HR ... Rios 10 for 45 (.222), 3 HR ... Konerko - 6 for 28 (.214), 2 HR ... Baines - 9 for 42 (.214), 1 HR.
Wake is also undefeated at Fenway this season, with a 7-0 record and 3.92 ERA.
The Chi Sox will counter with Gavin Floyd. Floyd, Buehrle and Danks have all been solid this season, each posting 10+ wins and an ERA under 4.00, but nothing really stands out with Floyd - except his home/road splits.
Floyd has struggled on the road and owns a 5.38 ERA and a .269 BAA away from Chi-town, compared to a 2.60 ERA, .213 BAA line at home. That said, he's 2-0 against the Red Sox and pitched a solid game the only other time he pitched in Fenway: 6.2 IP, 7 H, 1 ER, 5 K on 8/31/08.
We know that Lowell will be on the bench to start this one and Kotchman will be at first with Martinez catching... so I expect to see David Ortiz and his .375 BA vs Floyd at DH tonight. Drew, Youk and V-Mart all have solid numbers against Floyd and just happen to be some of our hottest hitters right now.
Bottom Line: Let's hope Wake can give us 5+ innings, because this whole Penny out of the 'pen thing has me worried.
ps. I totally stole this photo from Surviving Grady... but it's too awesome not to, right?
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