Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Wakefield just doing what he does

We really do just remember the disasters, don't we?

Tim Wakefield is on a ridiculous run in his last three starts. He's thrown 23 innings and allowed three earned runs on 10 hits. His ERA is 1.17. Opponents are hitting .123 and slugging .173 against him.

He now has thrown at least seven innings and allowed two or fewer earned runs in three straight starts. Given his tendency to see the roof cave in every once in a while, it seems like back-to-back-to-back outstanding starts might be something that's getting toward the unprecedented side for him.

You might wonder, in fact, if this is as good of a run as he's been on in his 15 years with the Red Sox.

Nope. Not even close.

If he's going to match his longest streak for extra-quality-starts (EQS) -- a stat we'll make up right here and define as 7 IP or more and 2 ER or fewer -- he's still only halfway there.

Wakefield went six straight starts in the fall of 2002 without allowing more than two earned runs or pitching fewer than seven innings. Twice, in fact, he allowed just one earned run in eight innings. He threw 45 innings altogether and allowed seven earned runs: a 1.40 ERA over six starts.

(You remember 2002, right? Rey Sanchez? Tony Clark? Carlos Baerga? Jose Offerman? Dustin Hermanson? Bobby Howry? We're not exactly talking about a sensational supporting cast here.)

All of this, of course, came after he'd spent almost the entire season pitching out of the bullpen. Frank Castillo had to be yanked from the starting rotation following a series of disastrous starts; Rolando Arrojo landed on the disabled list and later in the bullpen as well.

Wakefield never again would be asked to pitch out of the bullpen on any kind of regular basis.

OK, if that's the longest run of super-quality starts, this run now must be the second-longest, right?

Nope. Still not close.

It was just a year ago -- just a year ago! -- that Wakefield put up the following four pitching lines in succession in late May and early June:
* 8 IP, 5 H, 1 ER
* 7 IP, 5 H, 2 ER
* 7 IP, 5 H, 2 ER
* 7 IP, 5 H, 2 ER

Wakefield, in fact, has strung together four straight extra-quality-starts three times in his Red Sox career -- besides that run last year, he also did it in 1997 and 2005. He's strung together three straight extra-quality starts five times -- in 1995, 1998, 2005, 2007 and now in 2009.

To put it another way, here's the longest EQS streak for a few Red Sox notables since 1995:

* Pedro Martinez: 8
Pedro also had streaks of seven, six and five twice. But he's in a class by himself. We knew that already.
* Tim Wakefield: 6
* Bronson Arroyo: 3
* Roger Clemens: 3
* Josh Beckett: 3
* Tom Gordon: 3
* Jon Lester: 3
* Derek Lowe: 3
* Curt Schilling: 3
* Matt Clement: 2
* Daisuke Matsuzaka: 2
* Bret Saberhagen: 2
* David Wells: 2

Wakefield, right now, has as long of as many consecutive 7 IP-2 ER games as Josh Beckett has had in his short but brilliant Red Sox career.

Way to go, George Kottaras.

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