The future of the flutter ball

My pitcher heart beats faster when I hear a knuckleballer is on the mound.

It is just fascinating to see the hitters looking so silly as they swat at the ball as it floats on by.

I love to watch catchers using special over sized mitts still allowing at least three passed balls during a game.

I try to catch a glimpse of the pitchers hand with that really strange grip on the ball before he releases it.

It amazes me how they seem to throw it without breaking a sweat, unlike the power pitchers who are dripping with sweat from the effort of blazing fastballs one after the other towards home plate.

I was sad to see Tim Wakefield retiring and bringing the major league knuckleballers almost to extinction, with only R.A. Dickey still terrorizing hitters. What a shame to see the focus on power over fineness, the blown out arms, and the rise of Tommy John surgeries. I for one really appreciate the pitcher that can still fool a hitter with something special.

Well have no fear, the end is not near.

Down in Triple A Pawtucket the Red Sox have Steven Wright who is working on mastering control of his knuckleball. He has only been throwing the knuckle ball as a feature pitch for two seasons prior to this one, with pretty good numbers in Double A for the Cleveland Indians last year, with 20 starts, a 2.49 ERA, and 115.2 innings. He arrived last July in Boston and has been working hard to gain some measure of control over the pitch with the Red Sox hoping to leverage a late bloomer like R.A. Dickey.

I for one am pulling for him and he has already had a relief appearance against the Oakland Athletics in April where he was roughed up a bit. He will learn from this experience and with a taste of the big leagues I think he will only work harder. He has enough movement on his knuckleball but the issue will be keeping it over the plate for strikes at the major league level where hitters are patient. They will wait him out and adjust their approaches if he can't get the pitch over for strikes.

I am hoping he can make the adjustments sooner rather than later, but will he be back in Fenway this year? Can he make the control adjustments? What do you think of knuckleballers?

Post a comment or hit me up on twitter @ericschabell with your thoughts.

More by Eric D. Schabell