Fair warning: I’m about to drop some Ben Folds Five into the discussion.
Listening to Steven Wright‘s sixth start of the season, I couldn’t get the BFF song “Selfless, Cold & Composed” out of my head.
Maybe you’ve heard it. Maybe not (and if that’s the case, you need to resolve that – it might be the group’s best …). A rolling piano line, sweeping strings, and sublime lyrics:
It’s easy to be, easy and free
When it doesn’t mean anything
To remain selfless, cold and composed
The words kept running through my head Sunday evening, because they so aptly fit what Wright is doing this season. He’s just effortlessly turning in an ERA of 1.52, a WHIP of 0.99 and just a shade under a strikeout per inning. Lost in the headline numbers is an unbelievable .172 batting average against.
The knuckleball is floating in around 74 mph and he’s effectively punctuating it with an 87 mph fastball.
He’s utilizing the very, very fine defense behind him and keeping his head about him at seemingly all times.
Such a stark contrast to the seven starts David Price has turned in.
I like Price. I really do. He says all the right things. Does all the right things. He’s a good teammate. His stuff is unbelievable.
But boy is he struggling on the field.
For as effortless as Wright is making things look, Price has been the exact opposite.
He’s given up a startling 27 earned runs in 27.1 innings against division opponents.
He has yet to allow less than five hits to any opponent.
Price’s career track record would suggest he’ll get this figured out. The story circulating on Sunday was that Dustin Pedroia had identified a change from last year in Price’s delivery and that Price believes it is easily solvable (Does anyone else remember this exact same scenario playing out last year with Pedroia and Mike Napoli? It worked at least temporarily, and then it didn’t …).
Wright, though. How long can this last?
I like to think of him as the triple-option offense in college football: A different enough look to really cause opponents fits. He’s still a relative newbie – which could put him in line for divisional opponents to start figuring him out in the second half of the season.
But he’s also smart. And dogged in his determination to hone his unique craft.
And that knuckler is filthy. Time will tell.
Until then, just enjoy the music.
It’s easy to be, easy and free
ON THE FIELD
For the week, Boston went 3-3 with a great series win over the White Sox and an unfortunate series loss to the Yankees. The Red Sox leave the week a half-game behind Baltimore but five games above .500.
So many guys are shining – I mean truly shining – it’d be hard to think negatively about how the week played out. The defense
The stars of the week were all the guys who turned in shutout appearances out of the bullpen: Matt Barnes (twice), Tommy Layne (twice), Carson Smith, Craig Kimbrel, Koji Uehara, Robbie Ross Jr. and Junichi Tazawa.
John Farrell has a wide array of interesting and capable options to work with. The bullpen to contend for a title is there. So are the bats.
The starting rotation … The starting rotation could be so good, but it just keeps falling flat on its face. Clay Buchholz had a great start on Wednesday. We’ll see if he can replicate it on Monday against Oakland. When he’s on, he’s truly one of the best in the game. When he’s not … well, he didn’t stumble into that 5.71 ERA on accident.
Rick Porcello didn’t have a great start on Friday, at least not up to his high standards set earlier this season. If he’s on like he has been so far, combined with Wright, a presumably resurgent Price, the Buchholz of 2013 and the Eduardo Rodriguez of the future, then yes, the rotation is there to contend.
But that is four ‘ifs.’ And that’s just not a good number.
OFF THE FIELD
It rained basically all week in West Of Fenway proper (aka Gardnerville, Nevada). That wiped off a weekend’s worth of high school sports for my work and a pair of my son’s Little League games. Hoping for sunnier skies this week.
I’m re-binge-watching “The West Wing,” one of my favorite shows of all time, for the third time.
If I had to list my top 10 shows of all time right now, my list would be:
- The Wonder Years
- Friday Night Lights
- The West Wing
- The Office
- Parker Lewis Can’t Lose
- Everybody Loves Raymond
- Freaks & Geeks
- Sports Night
Feel free to pick that list apart. One final disclaimer: I’m prone to changing my top 10 lists on a whim.