OK, there you have it. Tim Wakefield reeled off a gem on Wednesday. Not only a gem, but a CLUTCH gem.
So perhaps it is time for people to stop sending me e-mails wondering why Wakefield is in the rotation, and why his spot isn’t filled by a more glamorous pitcher who throws hard.
Why is Wakefield in the rotation? Let’s start with the fact that he is one of the top bargains in baseball and has been for the last several years. The man — who signed a contract that was all about loyalty to a city and to a team — makes $4 million a year. That is $4 million for double-digit wins and 150 to 180 innings every year.
Even at 42, Wakefield remains a rock for the Red Sox. After the 12-inning game on Tuesday night, when Dice-K only lasted an inning, Wakefield wandered into his manager’s office before Wednesday’s game.
Basically Wakefield told Terry Francona, “I know what you need from me today and I’m going to give it to you.”
That is a veteran player who understands his responsibility to a team. Wakefield was determined to give his bullpen a reprieve and he wound up giving them an entire day off. He came five outs away from a no-hitter, and it would have been a golden moment for a man who is among the club’s all-time leaders in several categories. He became the oldest pitcher to notch a complete game in Red Sox history.
We know that Wakefield has a SLAP tear in his labrum, and has, since 2007. This means that at some point during the year, his shoulder will get cranky and he’ll need a two to three week break. We also know that at some point, Wakefield will get into one of those ruts that will have many of you e-mailing me and asking me why he is still in the rotation. And most of all, we know that Wakefield will get out of that rut and resume the quality pitching he has displayed so many times since first coming to Boston in 1995.